He Shall Give You Another Comforter


request-baptismI had expected to spend this Saturday in what I anticipated to be an all-day project for work. About a half hour into the project, it became evident I needed to be onsite to accomplish the many required tasks, thus I turned to pondering and study instead.

I began to ponder a running text dialog with a long-time reader. He seemed agitated, troubled and bothered by something that, to me, seemed perfectly clear and with which I was at peace. It had to do with the physical feelings that accompany The Comforter.

Personal Knowledge

I will not quote any scriptures. I simply wish to share my own thoughts and express gratitude to the Lord for teaching me over a lifetime of experience of the reality of the Holy Ghost, and how I experience his influence in my heart and in my mind.

I know when I am being taught by the Lord. Ideas flow into my mind that lead to faith in Christ. They are often accompanied by feelings of comfort and peace. On occasion, the power of the Holy Ghost upon me was so strong as to cause me to be overcome.

Physical Sensation

Yes, I mean with emotion – that sweet peaceful feeling that all is well in spite of the turmoil and trouble around me. The feeling, for me, is both physical and emotional. In others words, the phrase “burning of the bosom” has real significance to me.

There is a tangible warmth in my heart, in the area of my chest that is stronger when I pray, study, serve, bless or participate in an ordinance such as the sacrament or a baptism. I know what I am describing is common to many people, but not to some.

The Presence of Christ

My friend becomes agitated when I try to explain that I have had this gift, and yes it is a gift, for about as long as I can remember. The physical sensation of warmth is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of vibration in my spirit and of an aching in my bones.

I have written previously about being in the presence of Christ, and knowing it. I have heard his voice declare his love for me and ask me to do things that I simply would not have thought to do on my own. I felt free to not do the thing and still feel loved.

Spirit of Revelation

I was also shown what would happen if I did the difficult thing, and knew He would comfort me to endure the consequences of following the prompting. He has been true to His word. There is no doubt I am lonely and yet, I am not. He abides with me.

Does this make sense? I’ll tell you why I think this is so. It is because I exercised faith, was baptized, and believed the Lord’s promise that the Father would give me another comforter. This is the doctrine of Christ: to believe, to be baptized and receive.

Receive The Holy Ghost

Receive what? Receive the comforter. I know I am writing with very simple and basic statements. This is not new to most people who will read this, but to my friend, who has not been baptized, it is agitating. It is not a difficult concept. It simply takes faith.

I don’t want to make this long. With my friend, he keeps wanting to focus on the physical. I guess if you’ve never felt it before, it can be difficult to accept and believe. But the Lord promises we can feel the Holy Ghost before we are baptized if we ask Him.

Baptism is the Gateway

How else could the missionaries do their work? The Lord fulfils His promises. He sends the Holy Spirit to bear record of truth. If we are asked to do something that leads to greater faith in Christ then He will bless us in some way that we each will understand.

How can it be any clearer? Once baptized, simply obey what the Lord said: “Receive the Holy Ghost.” He is real. The Comforter is real. And yes, sometimes, many times, most times for me, I feel a physical sensation of warmth in spite of what others say.

A Constant Companion

My friend, I hope you will read this in the spirit it is intended. I mean you no harm. I have only words to persuade. But when I speak or write the truth, as I have here, God will make it known unto you in plain and simple ways so you can understand it.

God bless you my friend. I know you are desperate. You have told me so. I know you are lonely. You can have The Comforter as your constant companion. I am nearly sixty years old and still continue to feel the sweet peace from this wonderful gift of God.

Loss and Loneliness

I am sorry for your loss. I do not know what it is like to be alone or not have someone I can turn to when I am hurting. I am so, so very grateful to my wife for her loving companionship, but the peace I feel from the Holy Ghost surpasses all understanding.

I forgive you for lashing out in anger and pray God’s love to be upon you. Go get baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. Show the Lord you are serious. Baptism is the sign He recognizes. Once you take that step, I promise you your life will change.

Talking With God

How do I know? Because you are so serious when we discuss the subject. I know you are searching. I know you want this. Prayer is so much easier when the Lord gives you the words to say. This too is a part of the Gift of the Holy Ghost – Inspiration.

My friend, I pray for you every night. I pray you will focus on the things that are important and repent, which means to simply discard the false beliefs you hold in your heart about what God requires of you. He simply asks you to love and trust Him. Shalom.

Therefore Shall a Man Cleave Unto His Wife


sealing-room-altarOn September 13 2014, I submitted a letter of resignation from the LDS Church to my local leader. I had thought long and hard about my decision and confirmed it in prayer several times. What I did not do was to tell my wife in advance of my action, but I think she saw it coming. If you understand what the LDS Church teaches about temple marriages, you will agree with me Carol is indeed a wonderful woman.

For those who don’t know, the LDS Church teaches the most important thing a man and woman can do in this life is to marry in an LDS Temple and remain married throughout their mortal lives. Carol has the advantage in this situation. She did not resign from the LDS Church, therefore, it is believed and taught she will be given to or allowed to choose any worthy man who remains faithful in the kingdom of Heaven.

I, on the other hand, am damned forever, according to LDS doctrine, unless I repent, renounce what I have done, subscribe again to the baptismal requirements, am baptized again as a member of the LDS Church, and eventually, after a long period of probation, have my temple blessings restored, a process which requires authorization from the First Presidency or the highest leadership of the LDS Church.

Traditions of Their Fathers

SaltLakeTempleNightI have detailed this previously, but to summarize, Carol is a fifth-generation member of the LDS Church. On the other hand, my family are converts from the 1960’s, with only two out of the eight considered active today, my parents having passed on in the last decade. They had informally left the church earlier. Tradition is a powerful influence in Carol’s spiritual life, which I believe I understand and deeply respect.

Sometimes I am simply amazed at the depth of Carol’s love of the Lord and tolerance for me. If you can put yourself in her shoes for a moment, I’m sure you can understand the loss she has suffered. On ward temple night, she goes alone. She knows I partake of the sacrament using wine. The very idea of wine in her home has deep personal repugnance, her grandfather having lost his legs and died as an alcoholic.

She often comments, wondering aloud really, why those who leave the church are so vocal in their comments about how anyone could belong to such a deluded organization. It hurts her to hear or read such material. She has seen it firsthand from some of the people I have chosen to associate with in various fellowship groups. I feel similarly about some things said by LDS members and Church leaders.

Study, Ponder, Pray

libraryfrontroom.jpg

I still attend our main church meeting with Carol each Sunday. She asked this of me and I still dearly love so many of our friends we have associated with over the years. It is difficult at times to hear what I now consider subtle innuendos and even outright lies from the pulpit (I don’t attend classroom activities), from good people who have NOT studied things out and are simply repeating what others have said.

I considered myself an orthodox Mormon for all my life. I served an LDS mission at age nineteen. I met my wife through the LDS Church Young Single Adult program and married in the temple shortly after. As is fairly normal, I served for over twenty-five years in various teaching and leadership positions and did my best to make my private worship practice something that would give me spiritual strength each day.

I am a computer professional and spend almost all day every day on the Internet. It is a part of my job. When I take breaks I would go read what others were writing about the LDS Church and participate in the ongoing dialog on many of the blogs and chat groups. I like to consider myself well-read, or at least I can say I have contributed a lot of money to Deseret Book over the years in building my well-stocked library.

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

ezekial-chariotThe subjects of my blog were almost always on my mind for eight years. I thought about, studied about and wrote about the basic history and doctrines in a manner I hoped would be helpful to those who were serious about learning more about the LDS faith. Of course, as anyone can tell you who has done a serious study of Mormon history, the LDS Church white-washed, covered up and lied about much of it.

I have been pondering the idea of seeking re-admittance to the LDS Church. Why would I do such a thing? Mainly to strengthen my marriage. “Don’t do it for me,” Carol says. She is right. So I continue to ponder, pray and study. My greatest desire is to do the will of the Lord. We each have spiritual gifts. I like to think I have at least some sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. In other words, I hear His voice.

This is not a unique claim, one that has certain requirements of course, but is highly sought after by most members of the LDS Church I know. If a Mormon says to you, “I don’t want to hear the voice of the Lord,” I would translate that to mean, “I don’t want to do what I’m afraid I might hear,” Likewise, it is, or was, a long-time aspiration of faithful Mormons to come into the presence of the resurrected Lord.

Receive the Second Comforter

carl_bloch_the_christThis idea – embracing the Lord as a mortal – is a hot topic of debate today, at least among those who think it has significance. Some have told me, “It doesn’t matter. Just endure to the end and all will be well.” Did we not at one time teach it is worth any sacrifice to embrace the Lord while yet in this life? That’s the debate: Should we seek to come into the presence of the Lord? Or simply endure to the end?

Those who quote Joseph (and I’m certain I’ve shared this quote a dozen times on this blog), are looked upon by most as being quacks. The correlated material found in the LDS manuals today does not include this doctrine of seeking an audience with the Lord. This is the main doctrine I studied for two years before I decided I didn’t want to be part of an organization that almost NEVER brought this up.

“Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him,

“Potshots at the Brethren”

quorum-twelve-april-2016“and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions–Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”  TPJS, 149-151

Well, actually, there was much more to my decision that this. I met with my Bishop for a year to discuss my concerns. I was serving in the Stake Presidency at the time. He didn’t seem to have any problems with my questions. I figure he just accepted such things as part of my private gospel study. One time I quoted a General Authority saying we needn’t be concerned with this specific doctrine. My bishop reacted.

I won’t say he was upset. He’s a good man in control of his emotions. His statement, as I recall and recorded it, is that I was “taking potshots at the Brethren.” That got me thinking. Why is this doctrine so divisive? Is it not desirable? Does it not motivate? I will say, without a doubt, the idea of coming into the presence of the Lord is a thousand times more motivating to me than the idea of regular temple service.

Teaching the Word of the Lord

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingI want to have the Lord abide with me. That is the promise of the Second Comforter. I will do anything asked of the Lord to obtain this goal. It befuddles and amazes me when good brethren in my High Priest group told me I was wrong to bring this subject up, that enduring to the end is ALL that is required. That was the last time I attended a High Priest Group meeting. It seems their minds are made up forever.

I am saddened by the reports I read of husbands writing they will no longer be participating in some of the online groups that are out there – the ones Elder Ballard said in which we should be involved. I have also made that decision. I do not comment on the blogs anymore and I rarely write one. The reason given? The wife holds the upper hand. Divorce is threatened. “You teach correlated stuff or you’re out of here.” * See my comment below. This is NOT quoting Carol but was shared by an online friend in sorrow.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his wife. He has a responsibility to lead his family in righteousness. It is a sad thing we have relegated that responsibility as to what we believe to those who write the correlated doctrinal manuals that are used in the LDS Church today. The word of the Lord should come from God and the head of the family, not from some committee writings.

 

High on a Mountain Top


mountain-altarBirthdays, in my opinion, are wonderful opportunities for reflecting and pondering upon one’s life achievements up to the point of that birthday. On the occasion of my birthday last month, I did just that…I pondered. I sat and thought about what I had accomplished and what I was doing with life that is of benefit to others, my own family being the primary recipients in mind.

One of the ideas for pondering that came forcibly to mind was that of my health. I am grateful for my life and have always thanked the Lord for intervening in both preserving it and warning me when I am in danger of losing it. On the day of my birthday last month, I began a tradition that I have been attempting to maintain each Saturday since – that of climbing some mountain.

Those who are my Facebook friends will have seen some of the photos I have posted of those excursions, each being a bit more strenuous than the last, this last Saturday being no exception. There were moments in my descent from the heights in which the Lord, almost audibly, said to me, “Get on your butt and scoot down the trail before you find yourself flying head over heels.”

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

daymon-smith-skeletorI will always think of Daymon Smith when I bring up the voice of the Lord. His introduction of the possibility that the voice I hear is simply my own conscious occurs to me on occasions such as this, but to make the matter plain in this case, it was indeed the Lord – my Heavenly Father – warning me with love and yet strong emphasis: “Be careful. I love you. Don’t lose your life.”

In any event, I have been climbing mountains almost every Saturday over the past five weeks. “Why?” you ask? To get closer to the Lord or course. Now I know one does not NEED to climb a mountain to speak with the Lord. Still, there I go, looking for yet another place where I can be high above the earth, alone and away from others nearby who may happen to hear my words.

I found such a spot this last week and intend to return next week or the week after. I asked the Lord if He was pleased with my search. He confirmed. “Speak with confidence, my son,” and I did so. I thought I might share a few thoughts about the idea of calling upon the Lord in mighty prayer. For me, it requires that confidence of being away from others and up on a mountain.

Hiking in the Mountains

philmont-scout-ranchIt doesn’t have to be that way. For some reason I’ve somehow always been a hiker. As a youth, my longest excursion took me 59 miles into Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. Of course I was much younger then but I have similar fond memories of hiking up the Pacific Crest backbone in the San Gabriel Mountains to Mt. Baden Powell – a 3,000 foot climb over 8 miles.

Why do men climb mountains? I don’t know. I only know my purposes: to be alone, to be close to the Lord and to raise my voice in prayer, to “cry mightily” unto to Lord. I loved camp-outs during my Boy Scout years. I would stare for hours at the stars before falling asleep. I was in awe of such grandeur and the idea of such distances the light had travelled to reach my eyes.

I suppose it comes from the image of Moses ascending the mountain to see the Lord. In the Old Testament times, before temples were built, men approached the Lord at the top of mountains. I also think of Enos, who, although he was not on a mountain, sought the Lord in solitude. We know Nephi was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain.

High on a Mountain Top

nephi-visionWouldn’t that be something – to be carried away by the Lord to a high solitary place to hold a sacred conversation? Again, I’m not saying you need to go climb a mountain to achieve the goal of hearing the voice of the Lord. For me, it brings security, peace, trust and confidence. Joseph Smith sought the grove, sacred to their family, early in the morning, to reach out to his Father.

As I’m sure most of you have, I have heard the voice of the Lord. It is unmistakable. Some call it our conscious, others our inner spirit, or guiding light. I recall conversations with my Heavenly Father when I was a teenager, answering my prayers and directing my actions when asked. At times, the Lord was clear He preferred I NOT participate in the activities of others around me.

I think we might be surprised if we really think and ponder just how much our Heavenly Father really is involved in our lives. Sometimes I have a running conversation that lasts for days as I work on some complex project at work. Other times, His voice has been clear in enticing me to stay away from certain activities. A common thread deals with my need to repent more often.

The Hidden Trail

end-of-the-roadWhen I reached what I thought was the end of the road on my hike Saturday, I looked to see if I could continue hiking down and across the canyon in front of me. No way. I asked out loud, “It this the spot?” No voice, but an impression came to look to the right. There was a small trail, most likely used by the local wildlife to get to the top. “Ah, ha.” I began the long, steep ascent.

Halfway to the top I came upon a small clearing, not quite a meadow but no longer ascending. I immediately knew this was the spot. I could come to this place anytime for privacy and to feel that nobody would hear me if I were to raise my voice and cry unto the Lord in mighty prayer. I felt a sense of exhilaration and rejoicing. It seemed I had been looking for this place for years.

The wonderful thing is, it is close to my home – within a fifteen-minute drive – and less than an hour along the trail, giving me plenty of time to think about what I want to say to the Lord. The area is flat enough I could build an altar there if I wanted to, but I feel in my heart that it will be some time before I do so, IF I choose to do so. One reason of course is it is in public wilderness.

Making a Living Can Be Stressful

avjet-hangarI’m going to Moab, Utah in a few weeks to associate with some friends, observe the Sabbath and to partake of the Sacrament. At first Carol had agreed to go with me but has a conflict with a writing seminar. I’m not sure how comfortable she would be with wine in place of water we use in the Sacrament. It will be good to get away from all the stress of my work at the airport.

For those who don’t know, my company was bought by a subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company. I swore I would never work for a public company again – I despise audits – but am excited at the opportunity to help the owner of the company I have been with for the past eleven years as he starts his new company. I enjoy building new things and making technology work like it should.

I recognize this has been a long, rambling post. I simply wanted to share how grateful I am the Lord hears and answers our prayers even though it can sometimes take years. I have long felt the need for a spot to build an altar, a spot I could hold sacred, a spot I could pray in voz alta. The Lord has answered my many prayers and shown me a place that He would find acceptable.

Cry Mightily Unto the Lord

brotherofjaredI believe that may be why we feel some of our prayers are not answered. Perhaps we are too timid in what we offer to the Lord. When speaking out loud, when we “cry mightily,” we are led by the Lord in what would be for our best good. He knows what we need. Somehow, when we put our heart into it as implied by “cry mightily,” our spirits seem to be more in tune with His will.

But then, I have felt the same thing when pondering and meditating ever so quietly. I guess it just depends on what your spirit needs at that particular moment. I only know there are times I felt compelled to pray with great passion – to cry mightily – and have felt restrained even in my own home, and even then concern over what the neighbors may think can easily hold me back.

I encourage you to find your own sacred place where you can cry mightily to the Lord. Perhaps you have concerns that others would think you in need of medical or psychiatric assistance. Another good place that comes to mind is way out in the desert, far from any habitation, a place that perhaps took an hour took to reach. I know some such places down in the St. George area.

The Lord Might Drive Us Into the Desert

Adam-and-EveI am confident the Lord can and will drive any of us into the desert to some spot He has picked out for us, a place where we can raise our voices in mighty prayer and come to know His will. He is anxious to answer. He will give even inspire us with words or phrases that will help us come into the state of mind or being that allows us to receive answers clearly and confidently.

May God bless each of us to find our own mountain top to commune with our Heavenly Father.

Your Bill Is Coming Due.


PaymentDueThroughout this post, the JST ( http://centerplace.org/hs/iv/ ) is made use of instead of the KJV.

If you agree that Jesus spoke the words attributed to him in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible, and if you agree that by entering into the waters of baptism you have entered into a covenant to be obedient to him until the end of your life, or if you have partaken of the sacrament, then you have witnessed unto God, the Father, that you are willing to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Moroni 4:3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

JST John 14

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

If you love Jesus, keep his commandments.  You love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and he will bring the Father to you.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

The visit spoken of is literal, and in this world.

D&C 132

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to [my] glory.

22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

Remember, the idea that one receives Jesus in one’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.  To receive Jesus therefore means to take him into your home, or to embrace him physically.  If you do not thus receive him in the world, then you do not know him, and you do not receive exaltation.  If you thus receive him in the world, then you know him, and will receive exaltation.

Putting it all together, you love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and you will take him into your home, or embrace him physically.  If you thus receive him, he will bring the Father to you, and you will receive your exaltation.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

If you do not keep his commandments, you have no promise of any of these things.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 [W]hen we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

So what are the commandments of the Lord?  For brevity, here is the shortest version.

JST Luke 6

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are they who hunger now; for they shall be filled. Blessed are they who weep now; for they shall laugh.

22 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you who are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you who laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

27 But I say unto you who hear my words, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you.

28 Bless them who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.

29 And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.

31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

32 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

33 For if ye love them only who love you, what reward have you? For sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what reward have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?

40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

41 And why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?

42 Again, how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote which is in thy brother’s eye.

43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit;

44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

46 And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like.

48 He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.

49 But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

These teachings are repeated three times throughout scripture.  Three times.  Thrice.

 3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Are you keeping these sayings of Jesus?  Are you performing them daily?  Are you giving to every man that asketh?  Are you lending to all, not hoping to receive again?  Are you returning reviling for reviling, or are you patiently enduring abuse?

These are, after all, the things you witnessed unto God that you are willing to do.

And, remember further, great promises are offered to those who both do and teach.

JST Matthew 5:21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever breaks the least of these commandments, and teaches men to do likewise, are promised they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, while those who both do them and teach them are promised they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

JST Luke 14

25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.

29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?

30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,

31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,

32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.

33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

He meant it.  And do not think to claim that by your loyalty to the prophets and apostles of the Church, or any others, that you can bypass the requirements Jesus has set.

35 Then certain of them came to him saying, Good Master, we have Moses and the prophets, and whosoever shall live by them, shall he not have life?

36 And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had known them, ye would have believed on me; for to this intent they were written. For I am sent that ye might have life. Therefore I will liken it unto salt which is good;

37 But if the salt had lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

38 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dung hill; men cast it out. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. These things he said, signifying that which was written, verily must all be fulfilled.

So likewise if you keep not his sayings, even while claiming loyalty to prophets, you are as salt that has lost its savor, a covenant people claiming Jesus for king yet not obeying the king’s laws, and therefore are covenant-breakers, good for nothing but to be cast out.

Those who teach you that you owe less to the Lord than you have covenanted to do are the unjust steward, who will be sharing lodging with you in everlasting habitations if you agree with them (see JST Luke 16).  Time is short, and your bill is coming due.

Therefore, do not procrastinate the day of your fulfillment of your own words, covenants, witnesses, or agreements, but begin today to keep the commandments of the Lord that he delivered by his own voice to his people, that you may be accounted faithful in all things.

 Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain [bring into your home] strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

And who knows but that the angel in disguise might be the Lord himself, seeing if you are one of his disciples.

The Rules of the Contest


the-contestHow easy it is to be misunderstood. People often jump to conclusions so quickly. Even things close friends write in response to a post can be way out of line. It becomes clear to see where an individual stands in fulfilling one the most important parts of friendship. Or maybe I’m such a damned poor writer I am unable to get my thoughts across as clear as I once believed I could.

I was raised with four sisters. I learned way too late in my teenage years how important it is to be kind to those you love. My brother and I were rough with each other but never worried about hurting each other’s feelings. Hell, he was a U.S. Marine, gone from home at age seventeen so he wasn’t around when I was a teenager. It was from my sisters I learned a fundamental key of life.

Kindness, non-judgment, and expressions of compassion are character traits real men can learn and use all their lives. Men who master these traits will have a great advantage over those who push their way through life with a mean, rough exterior being exhibited as their primary persona. Learning how to listen and hear a person out is not the exclusive domain of women in our lives.

The Glory of God is Intelligence

glory-of-god-is-intelligenceThe most intelligent man I know is also the best listener. In fact, when I think of him, his ability to hear and understand me are the first things that come to mind. He seems to know my mind on any given subject even before I do. Yet he listens and never butts in when I’m explaining how I feel about something. Come to think of it, he only responds when I invite him to share his ideas.

Long-time readers know how seriously I take my religion. Perhaps too serious. I have often been counseled to lighten up. Well-meaning people with my best interests in mind have been clear on this idea. Perhaps a better word for religion would be faith. Specifically, faith in Jesus Christ. I have strong feelings about my Savior and greatly respect those who exhibit His mild demeanor.

I think gentleness best describes what I appreciate about the Savior. He truly is a gentle man. I don’t mean gentle in the sense of weak or wishy-washy, but gentle in his concern for us and how we will respond to what he asks of us. Which leads me to the focus of this post: understanding what the Lord asks of us. Sometimes, it can seem strange or even contrary to a previous request.

Timing Can Be so Important

god-is-patientFor example, in my previous post, I summarized how for several years I studied the teachings of a man I consider inspired and a servant of the Lord before taking action on an invitation to show I accepted those teachings. I stated that perhaps I had made a mistake in the way I managed this essential action. In short, I resigned my membership in the LDS Church and sought for baptism.

Because I mentioned mistake, some thought I was referring to the idea of being baptized again. Let me be clear. I don’t believe it was a mistake to be baptized again. I know many who have been re-baptized, but did it quietly, sharing their good news with only a few close friends. In my case, I also felt it was right at that time to publicize it widely. So where did I make a mistake?

I don’t feel I made a mistake in resigning from the LDS Church. I could have gone ahead and been baptized without resigning and without announcing it on my blog. Others shared they felt that was the right path for them. I didn’t feel that way then and still don’t. It seems dishonest. If anything, my mistake was in not consulting with Carol before taking such a consequential action.

A Few Definitions to Agree Upon

define-prayerSeveral individuals who I thought were trusted friends jumped all over me for that very reason. “How could you do such a thing?” they said. “What were you thinking?” another said. “Did it not occur to you how this would affect your wife?” Trust me, I pondered Carol’s response very carefully over many days. Because I trust her, I followed the promptings of the Lord in prayer.

Because it’s important, here is my definition of how the Lord answers prayer, at least for me. When I want to know the Lord’s will on something, I ask for inspiration and guidance in my thoughts, I review what I already know about the idea or subject and then I ask the Lord to make it clear what would be the best path for me – the one that is filled with the most light at that time.

In describing answers to prayers in previous posts, I have mentioned feelings, visits, visions, voices, dreams and promptings. I have given examples of each. The most common has been in feelings, as in, “the Spirit of the Lord pressed upon my feelings,” or “A feeling I should pursue a certain course of action continually ran through my mind so much I could see myself doing it.”

Responding to the Ultimate Authority

jesus-teaching1I was surprised at the number of private emails I received in response to this last post. Perhaps the individuals didn’t want others to know how they felt about my post. After all, it *appeared* I was saying I wanted to be baptized again in the LDS Church. I noted I had met with my current bishop without mentioning things we discussed, limited mainly to historical and doctrinal doubts.

I suppose what I’m looking for is someone who can answer my questions and clear up doubts I have picked up over the past few years along with those I have put on the shelf from years past. I recognize the responsibility to answer these questions are mine. I own these questions. It would be unfair to anyone else to burden them with my doubts. The Savior is the ultimate authority.

In one of those private emails the individual asked, “If the Lord told you to be baptized into the LDS Church once again, would you do so?” My immediate response was in the affirmative. I love the people of my ward and stake. I hold no ill feelings toward anyone in our congregation although I’m sure there are many who are angry with me for the very public actions I have taken.

The Objective is Truth

truth-has-no-agendaAlthough this is certainly not a game, I’ve shared two rules of the contest: How, for me, prayers are answered and what actions should be taken when such prayers are clearly answered. May I introduce a third rule? Truth is the objective in this competition. I am not interested in being part of a group whose goal is to create loyal followers or congregants who fit their idea of fellowship.

I am seeking truth. I don’t believe truth is subjective based on who is telling the story. I’m not in this for the social benefits, although there are clearly many such benefits. I appreciate the idea that fellowship is required in order to serve one another that our burdens may be light. I love to worship together in song and prayer. The gifts of the spirit are given to strengthen one another.

Perhaps I can leave you with something to ponder to demonstrate the objective of truth. In 3 Ne 11, the Lord taught the requirements of baptism are to repent and to become as a little child. He also said, “And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock.” Now look at the second baptismal question.

Come Follow Me, the Savior Said

come-follow-meWho has the right to set the requirements for baptism? We are entering into a covenant with our Savior, with Jesus Christ. Why is it a requirement of salvation to accept a man as an intermediary between us and Christ? I’m not trying to trick anyone here. I simply want to know. It just doesn’t seem right. Christ was clear what he taught in 3 Ne 11, at least it’s clear to me as I pray about it.

We follow the Lord. He has the power to save us. No man, as far as I can tell, can do anything to redeem us from hell. That’s why I was baptized again. I was not baptized into a Church. I was not baptized to demonstrate allegiance to any man. I was baptized to demonstrate my acceptance of the doctrine to follow Christ. Adding to these requirements is evil. Or so the Savior has said.

I wish I had the power to open the eyes of the people to see what we have done. We have set a man in the place of Christ. I know that sounds harsh, but this is the first question I would need to have resolved before I would consider accepting baptism in the LDS Church. That question and several others would need to be removed from the baptismal interview. Does this not seem clear?

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


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  • 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!

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