Priesthood Interviews

 

A letter I sent to some national papers in England a year or two back, but nothing came of it, because the one that did reply, wanted proof or evidence of abuse. Sam’s present crusade to highlight this subject is totally justified. I share this letter in support of his great efforts.

This letter is regarding the systematic SEXUAL ABUSE (on an EMOTIONAL level) of children from 8 years of age and upwards – throughout their teen years and beyond into adult life….

I have been a life-long member of the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) I was once a Bishop within this Church, but finally stopped attending (excommunicated) back in April 2006. I have written a book detailing how I discovered it was a false religion – built on lies and have since published a book entitled: ‘The Youngest Bishop in England.’ This, however, is not my point here…. I want to bring to your attention something which I feel duty bound to do something about if I possibly can.

It is NOT something which grabs attention when most people think, or mention ‘Mormonism.’ Usually, they think of tithing, or polygamy, or not drinking tea and coffee. What I want to tell you about is something all Mormons consider ‘perfectly normal.’ Now that I have become de-programmed myself, I can see far more clearly just how bad things really are…. It is the systematic SEXUAL ABUSE on an EMOTIONAL level, of all children from the age of 8 upwards and continues right through teenage years into adult life – for as long as a member lives.

This takes place during Church interviews, which are carried out routinely for all age groups, and for each gender, where one male priesthood leader sits alone with an individual in a private room and conducts a ‘worthiness interview’ with that member.

These interviews are conducted for various reasons. For example:

(1) A child is approaching their eighth birthday and is ready for baptism, so the bishop or one of his two counsellors needs to check they are prepared? Are they aware of the basic teachings and are they morally worthy?

(2) From the ages of 12 through to 18, each youth – male and female, are interviewed twice a year to encourage them to be ‘good Mormons’ and moral worthiness is checked.

(3) Every ‘calling’ requires a worthiness interview. (‘callings’ are voluntary jobs in the Church – and all adults have at least one. These change regularly)

(4) There are Chapels in every town, but only two Temples in this country… in order to be admitted to a temple, a person requires a ‘recommend’ (a piece of paper certifying worthiness) which is obtained after two interviews – one with a local leader and another with a higher ecclesiastic leader; these are renewed every 2 years. In both interviews moral worthiness is checked.

(5) At age 18, all young men are interviewed for advancement in the priesthood where moral questions are asked again

(6) A full-time 2 year mission is only possible after two thorough worthiness interviews (once more – by local and higher ecclesiastical leaders)

Apart from all this, the bishop or higher ecclesiastical leader, may interview anyone anytime for whatever reason they deem fit. In addition, any member who admits or confesses to some sexual sin (masturbation, fornication, pornography or adultery, or even naughty thoughts) will be thoroughly interviewed – repeatedly, if necessary, to encourage obedience and moral purity.

Consider these FACTS:

    1. Interviews are carried out on ALL individuals from the age of 8 onward, regularly.
    2. These interviews are held in private, behind closed doors
    3. The interviewer may well be a relative stranger to the person being interviewed
    4. The interviewer will always be male
    5. No proper training is given in order to conduct such interviews
    6. No police checks on the interviewer are ever carried out – no, not even thought of!
    7. No other adult, friend or parent is present
  • There are a number of questions in these interviews, which require a yes or no answer… such as:

 

  • Do you sustain your leaders?
  • Are you honest in all your business dealings?
  • Do you attend all your meetings at Church?
  • Do you have a testimony (a very strong conviction) that the Church is true? (the only true church divinely restored on Earth)
  • Do you pay a full tithing? (10% income if wage earner)
  • Do you keep the ‘Word of Wisdom’? (Health code: no tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol)
  • Are you morally pure? (no naughty thoughts, pornography, masturbation or any sexual expression outside of marriage ­– including gay tendencies, or sexual distortions within marriage) and finally: Is there anything in your life that has not been previously dealt with, which should have been?

(this last question catches any past moral misdemeanours)

 The problem is so far bad enough, but it gets worse… If, for instance, a very young girl says she plays (innocently) with her genitals, or perhaps a teenager confesses some inappropriate sexual sin, then the leader doing the interviewing is perfectly justified in probing the ‘details’ of this confession to ascertain whether further ‘disciplinary’ measures need to be taken? He may indeed set up more interviews either weekly, monthly or quarterly, to check on progress and repentance. It is (and becomes) a gross infringement of what most people in the street would call normal and acceptable development, and in addition, a gross infringement of what most people would call a highly intrusive interference to individual privacy and freedom.

 I have no problem with interviews being conducted where purely religious matters are inquired about and general encouragement given, but I do have a problem with a person’s private, moral/sexual life being probed. It is evasive and highly disturbing that it should be happening at all in our post Jimmy Saville climate!

As a past bishop, I have conducted such interviews for 6 years and I have also (like all other members) been the recipient of this particular form of abuse. I have seen the consequences of this type of invasive interference on the lives of members… particularly the young. Can you imagine being a child or teenager and submitting yourself to a searching interview at such a tender age of innocent development – knowing perhaps you are not guilt free (remembering that much of the guilt is placed in a person by their religion and is not natural) and having someone whom you deem to be a ‘man of God’ tell you He (God) is not pleased with you and HATES your conduct, so you need to force yourself to be ‘pure’ in mind and body? There have been some pretty shocking stories where priesthood leaders have asked eight year olds whether they masturbate? Admittedly, this is rare, yet it highlights the insane situation where anything could be asked – even with the utmost sincerity and good intentions on the part of the leader!

The problem is, when someone asks a child or young teenager a question and they don’t understand the meaning, or the question, the person conducting the interview will then proceed to explain the meaning… thus, unnecessary distress and embarrassment takes place. Adults too suffer from such interviewing. My past wife (has since died of cancer) was very attractive and very shy… she hated these interviews, despite being ‘worthy.’ Fortunately, most of her interviews (for a temple recommend) were with a very kindly and sensitive male leader, who respected her character and shyness… but this is the point; it is so hit and miss. It is far from professional and the very idea of such intrusive and penetrating inquisitions being carried out where people’s private behaviour is scrutinised, is scandalous and even obscene. I have not even mentioned the humiliations that can, and often does occur when a particular ‘sin’ is confessed to a bishop, or when habitual tendencies which cannot be conquered, take place. In such situations, disciplinary Church courts will haul the individual up before a council of men, to examine the detail and determine punishment. Punishment might be excommunication, or disfellowshipment (loss of certain Church related privileges) Unfortunately, what was once ‘private’ becomes ‘public’ as other members notice a particular individual cannot attend the temple or is not permitted to take the sacrament. It adds additional shame and reproach to an already difficult situation. Under this priesthood inquisition will come self loathing. The Church’s paranoid scrupulosity for the moral purity of its members creates a strain of unbelievable self contempt, sadness, anxiety, guilt and self recrimination. Though some of the rhetoric is otherwise, sex still feels dirty in Mormonism. The sadness I feel is that so many young people grow up feeling that simply having a sexuality, is a sin and a burden! The inability to celebrate who you really are comes from being drowned under an ocean of distorted self appraisal. An appropriate and balanced perspective of being gifted, talented or decent is lost in a sea of guilt and madness. After all, God HATES what you are doing – and what you are doing so often feels like WHO you are… and inevitably, the two merge and become one! For gays, the strain is colossal. All gays are made to feel uncomfortable – not so much because all members are nasty or unkind – they are not, but because the entire Mormon theology is antipathetic to their nature. It is why Utah has the highest suicide rates for young people throughout America.

I’d be grateful if you can either pass on this info or refer me to anyone in the media you think may wish to expose this practise…. if I do nothing about it, I know I will always live with regret.

Lastly, it is not my intention to embarrass the Church (though God knows they need to be), but perhaps public awareness may make them more responsible and willing to change their policy and practise in this area.

Yours faithfully,

Robbie Bridgstock

FAITHLESS PROPHETS

Mormon leaders are essentially FAITHLESS.

They accuse members who have doubted and those who have left, with having a LACK of FAITH – a failure to TRUST. But consider this: Throughout our lives the leadership of the church has been constantly banging-on about the POWER of God – what He can do to save us; why we need Him and how the Holy Ghost can teach, inspire, protect, comfort and bless our lives, yet apart from the young children of Gay parents who are already (apparently) tainted by the environment of their home and thus not worthy to be baptized, there is one more insidious exception to this availability of God’s power, it is this one – dumb, cult-like, fear-based, qualification: ‘He cannot dwell in  unholy temples if we are not wholly circumspect.’ He departs. He can’t seem to stomach such contamination.

CS Lewis used to highlight this self-same ridiculous paradox, by saying that biblically speaking (and he’s correct) ‘Repentance is a Gift’ and the person who needs to receive this gift is required to gain access to the Holy Spirit first, but CANNOT in his unworthy state…. so how can he repent? Their teaching – that God departs from us when we become ‘unworthy,’ is one of the most despicably false dogmas I know. To suggest that any God worth His salt, should dump us when we need him most, is obscene and has brought untold misery to Christians and Mormons alike. It’s a cynical, nasty and constraining devise, to keep us in a sense of deserted spiritual destitution – a perfect malleable state for a controlling institution like the church.

Seemingly, God should be able to work through any means to pull us back to faith in Him – if this is His work? I mean, not just through obedience, but from any human condition of negativity, sickness, wellness, weakness, or temptation – including the simple condition of doubt and confusion. God can come to us through ANY form and in ANY state – a book, a computer, a stranger, a friend – through nature, art, music. No matter whether we happen to be totally messed-up, or basking in profound stability – whether in the grip of addiction, or so-called sin, God is supposed to descend to rescue at OUR level (or He’s bloody useless!)…. yet LDS leaders have NO FAITH in this, their proclaimed God, otherwise they would stand back, LET GO and see Him do miracles! They show incredulous disbelief and a pathetic inability to TRUST their God.

It’s as if there exists NO power – apart from themselves – to save us? They have so worried and fretted to ‘protect’ the membership, that they have repressed free and open enquiry, established secrecy, thought police and glossed-over the history – all because presumably, they think this God of theirs must be POWERLESS to Prove, Confirm, Bless, Sustain, Discern and Restore belief of Himself into the souls of members and doubters. It’s as if this God is totally impotent, paralyzed and neglectful.

Oh yes, they suggest members ignore epistemology and only strive for a ‘Spiritual Witness,’ but at the same time, they continue to sustain their cult-like environment throughout the entire church; it’s almost like an open prison!… that sense of a suffocating repression of our real identity and the denial of the genuine expression of true feelings, still prevails. When push comes to shove, they demonstrate ZERO FAITH that God has the power to change us, help us and confirm to any given member, His truth – that the church is true. Once again, their particular appeal to the ‘Spiritual Witness’ solution, exhibits their LACK of FAITH in a proper investigation of truth. They know their method produces a self-deluding, wishful-thinking reaffirmation of the ‘same old’ stuff. It’s a cheap trick they should be so embarrassed and ashamed to stand by. The bankruptcy of their FAITH that God can do it, is shown by the manner they try to override our freedom to try.  GA’s are demonstrably FAITHLESS about the supposed omnipotence of their self confessed God, because they seek through their domination, strategy and punishments to exert forms of influence that should have been left to God… but they don’t. It’s as if their faith in His almighty power – His love, His grace and His intervention on our behalf, cannot be trusted!

It’s rather like a wife feeling and wondering (after some considerable time) whether she has made a mistake in getting married and then – upon him hearing this – demanding she does not leave the house or seek any outside advice. His control of her demonstrates his fear of losing her and his LACK OF FAITH in her – as well as his inability to TRUST GOD to ENABLE HER to make the right choice.

Mormon leaders are essentially FAITHLESS.

 

 

BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES

In a recent talk given at BYU by apostle Quentin L. Cook, entitled: ‘BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES – The Cumulative Result of all Choices.’ He drummed up the predictable appeal to both ‘Fear’ and ‘Reward’ with the reminder of the existence of Satan – as an ever present danger to our souls. His warning was, that people today will say – like Korihor, that He (Lucifer) does NOT exist and He would cause us to twist badness into goodness and goodness into badness – thus, justifying many of our bad societal choices. Amongst a number of examples he cited, were abortion rates, the role of women in marriage and in the home (forgoing educational and vocational advancement, etc., to start a family), The Word of Wisdom (alcohol), alternative marriage choices (inferring same sex marriage as inappropriate for happiness).

devil-3He says the Devil will try and cause people (you, me and the rest of those heathens) to mischaracterize good gospel principles – as undesirably bad. He also said about materialism:

“Lucifer’s paradigm shift here is to elevate the seeking of great wealth and the acquisition of highly visible luxury products. Some seem absolutely driven to achieve the life-style of the rich and famous. Excess wealth is not promised the faithful, nor does it usually bring happiness.”

Well now, should we deem a comment like that as the height of hypocrisy, or as uttered by a man so close to the trees, he cannot see the wood?…. In case you didn’t know (he says stupidly) the church is drenched up-to-the-eyeballs in money, investments and assets. It is one of the largest land owners in the US and when asked why? They reply: “It’s for a rainy day.”

We have belonged to a very greedy – grubby little church, which has at its core, the lust of money. Oh yes, once upon a time, we saw LDS history as they intended – our bright and shiny Restoration – God’s Kingdom on Earth. But, bye and bye the mask slipped and the camouflage fell. We saw what was always there, that ulcerated mess of a body, covered then, in a beautiful crisp white shirt and those sharp dark suits. Our church disintegrated into ashes. For many of us, it came down like 9/11. Suddenly – as if from a dream – we awoke and were met by a cold reality.

Don’t let them fool you – it takes an awful lot of courage and faith (whether faith in Self to tackle the future alone, or in another God – who for some, must be out there?) It takes nerve, integrity and a conscience to prepare to stand alone.  We have run close to self-destructing all those attainments and securities that have been gained in life, than shaft our own souls with dishonesty.

imagesp4rh1fi1Bad choices, he insists, brings “A banquet with BITTER, RANCID, NASTY AND MISERABLE RESULTS.” Well, I’m so excited about my final destiny! Somebody called Smith said that it would be an indescribable Hell – so bad, that even God did not, or could not bear to talk about it!

As I have done everything so far to qualify (according to the D&C) as a ‘Son of Perdition,’ I’m just wondering whether I’ll get a hint of its misery now – in this life? Or perhaps a hint of  bitterness? Well, ok, I’ll give him that, I do often get cross and yes I’m sorry, but RANCID, NASTY AND MISERABLE? I can echo the same feelings as most of you who have left the Morg…. I’m happy, relieved, free, 10% better off, relaxed, healed…. and getting slowly ‘normal.’ I am no less compassionate, caring and full of the same old humour. I’ll keep looking for that Devil – if he’s out there? But as sure as hell, he’s not in here! (my heart)

As Mr Cook seems to think, (and probably quite sincerely) ‘we lot’ are possessed of the devil, and ‘them lot’ (the LDS faithful) had better take heed too. Let me quote a friend of mine – Jim Whitefield, from his 4th Volume of THE MORMON DELUSION ‘The Mormon Missionary Lessons – A Conspiracy to Deceive,’ about whether the devil exists? It’s worth reading:

temple-devil“Christian concept of ‘original sin’. The controlling influences of fear and guilt introduced by these concepts have manacled believers ever since. Christians in general just do not realise that the Old Testament or Tanakh do not include such a character as Satan. As previously mentioned, the Jews never did and still do not believe in such a creature and references to ‘HaSaTan’ in the Bible refer to an adversarial being who sits on God’s council and who cannot act without God’s permission. He is not evil. Likewise, ‘Lucifer’ is misinterpreted in the Old Testament by Mormons and also by many other Christians who do not understand the meaning, nor the fact that Christ effectively referred to himself as ‘Lucifer’ in the New Testament.

The Hebrew text in Isaiah was translated to the Latin word ‘Lucifer’ which actually meant Venus as a morning star. Isaiah was using this metaphor for a bright light, referring to the power of the Babylonian king which had faded. It was never anything other than that. It is now a serious problem for the Mormon Church which refers to ‘Lucifer’ as a character, particularly in the temple endowment ceremony. Some Mormon writers have tried to accommodate the error by claiming the text may have had a double meaning but it could not have done as the very concept of the character ‘Lucifer’ is non-Jewish.

blake_041It appears that early Christian scribes first deliberately created in the third century, and then perpetuated, the myth of ‘Lucifer’ through the interpolation of the word Lucifer to represent Satan or the Devil, in Jerome’s Vulgate in the fifth century. It was not the use of the word that was wrong; rather, it was the associated teaching that it was a name for Satan instead of the metaphoric description of the Babylonian king to whom the original Hebrew phrase “heleyl ben shachar” (which literally means ‘shining one, son of the dawn’) referred. This could be reasonably translated into Latin as ‘lucifer’ which really should be looked at more closely by the Mormon Church and admitted as a major error. As the Old Testament was written by Jews who do not and never did believe in the much later Christian concept of the Devil, it is therefore completely impossible that this verse referred to a ‘personage’ that Christians, and in particular Mormons, now term ‘Satan’.

Did the word Lucifer always exist? No, it most certainly did not. In the Hebrew language, the word Lucifer is derived from the Hebrew word …. (Hêlel). The term ‘Lucifer’ did not exist in biblical times. Lucifer is a Latin word. (L. lux, lucis = light/fire; Ferre = to bear/to bring). The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew, so the word Lucifer could not have been in their language.”

The Church of Chronic Denial and Dementia

spencer-1

 

Denial – a person, or group of people, faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

Dementia – a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, impaired reasoning, disorientation, mood and behaviour changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place.

WHAT WE ALL KNEW

The Institution of the Mormon church – its hierarchy, has lost its marbles. It has demonstrably shown that it has lost its corporate Memory and is suffering from Dementia. It also lives and breathes the blatant Denial of uncomfortable facts. It is both sick and guilty at the same time. Guilty, because it continues to deliberately disguise the mess and fantasy of its own dogmatic history into a delusion of legitimate idealism. And sick, because long exposure to its own cultural and spiritual environment has sustained the fallacy of thinking it KNOWS. But the knowing is just one expression of their intense desire to make the tale true. In fact, it is part of the barrier – the mental and emotional blindness, formalized through indoctrination – the inculcation of ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies and a survival methodology, with which to sustain a system of beliefs.

I think this can be demonstrated with one single example from their history – that of the Blacks and the Priesthood.

Naturally, those who have only been members of the church for the last few decades will not recall the 14 years before the 1978 Official Declaration 2 announcement…. when we were all told the Blacks could receive the priesthood. This is when Spencer W. Kimball claimed to have received a revelation from God. (Declaration 2 is located on page 293 of my 1981 edition of The Doctrine and Covenants, so it’s a canonized revelation).

From 1964 (when I joined) right up until this Declaration 2, to the very recent and Official ‘essay’ entitled ‘Race and the Priesthood’ of December 2013, I was taught with every conceivable channel of communication from the church (Lessons, sacrament talks, general conference broadcasts, stake conferences, visiting authorities, the Ensign and numerous books) why the Blacks had not received the Priesthood and therefore denied positions of leadership, ordination, temple covenants and sealings.

We were told repeatedly, this was a direct result of unworthiness through failure in the pre-existence to be valiant. Not only this, but multiple scriptures still printed in the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, showed clearly that the doctrine (oh yes, most emphatically a doctrine) of the Black race being cursed with a dark skin, was a punishment since the days of Cain. This was the teaching of the Official church.

Joseph Smith started the prejudice – whether willingly or by default – by incorporating it into the LDS Standard Works of the church. Those who regularly read their scriptures will know these teachings. I wish to emphasize the insurmountable evidence of this teaching being well established and regularly spoken and written about by General Authorities of the church for the many decades I have been a member. Lee Baker (one time bishop) has compiled a list of quotations on this doctrine http://leebaker.4mormon.org/deliberate-racist-statements-from-the-mormon-church/ I have copied his list and it has filled 70 A4 pages in 12pt type. To repeat, that’s 70 pages of General Authority quotes on WHY the Blacks did not and should not receive the priesthood!

And just another rather nasty offshoot of the church’s racist attitude, in the belief that the Blacks were suffering an earthly punishment of a black skin for their lack of valour in the pre-existence. It created an extension of judgement against all classes and races of people, with a suspicion that the origins of their birth (such as poor staving African children… or usually, poor displaced people anywhere, as well as the elite ‘white’ children of western born parents – especially those born into LDS families in the USA), as having somehow ‘earned’ their advantage or disadvantaged birth. Please don’t suggest this was not a problem in the psyche of LDS members – I noticed it frequently. I even bought into it. One sad outcome was a less than normal aptitude for compassion for those in greatest need, because somewhere in their past, they must have deserved it.

THE INCREDULOUS DENIAL

denial2-copy

That today’s church spokesman (sorry, not the prophet or apostles – they seem generally afraid to say too much these days) has told us that the concept, origins, record, history or reasons for the denial of the priesthood to Blacks, is not known. That is just absolute nonsense. We all knew! Yet we find the hierarchy clueless and dumb about how, why and when it started? The prefaced heading to Declaration 2 has the sentence: Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.” What? Are you kidding me! No record – no written information in scripture, nothing in church magazines, curriculums, talks, or lessons? Not so, we all lived with a certainty of this well established doctrine and it has been thoroughly well documented – as the 70 pages of evidence reveal… and that’s just one man’s collection.

But hang on a minute… Yes, it is wonderful news, that at last, the church admits in their 2013 ‘Race and the Priesthood’ essay that the ban on the Blacks came from cultural prejudice in the days of Brigham Young! Oh thank God that the Lord had nothing to do with it! It was all just a reflection of the times they lived in; just a bad but understandable mistake. Prophets, after all, are just human and are subject to error or wrong decision making, but at least we know it was nothing to do with God….

“Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church . . . . The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority that had been used to argue for the legalization of black “servitude” in the Territory of Utah . . . . Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

 Just to remind ourselves; from Brigham Young, through all the successions of prophets and quorums of 12, the prejudice and restrictions were upheld. This was no small, insignificant law within the church. That it is now referred or suggested to be a ‘policy’ change and never an actual doctrine, is totally ridiculous – a complete lie.

What, then, was the affect of this racist doctrine upon Black members?

Imagine yourself in their place…. devout Black individuals or families, from generation to generation sitting in their LDS churches listening to all those talks and lessons about the importance of being sealed or endowed in order reach the Celestial Kingdom. Think of all those insufferable testimonies from the stand about some delightful temple experience… but YOU can’t go – probably never, before you die. Unless you were really stoic or superbly spiritual, you would sometimes feel depressed about the state of your own soul – your profound refusal to sustain God in your past life; your very skin – a reminder every moment of your day – every time you glanced in the mirror, of your blame and guilt.

This priesthood ban by successive prophets (in God’s so-called true church) is a massive and colossal cock-up.

One of the things we were all taught about prophets was that they were – unlike us lot – in touch with the Lords will. They, above all people, had the keys and the ordination to discern the mind and will of God. We have been taught to trust them and to rely on their judgement. Such perceptions have been summed-up by variations on phrases, like: “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over.”

 We were also taught the following, which, in the light of church admissions about the real reason for the priesthood ban, now makes these statements utterly worthless and false:

  •  “Keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray’” (current Aaronic Priesthood Manual, Lesson 24 “Follow the Prophet”; Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78; ). 
  • “There is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord” (current Aaronic Priesthood Manual, Lesson 24 “Follow the Prophet”; Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 99) 
  • “The Saints can have faith in their leaders and vote unanimously on all propositions, knowing that the things presented for their sustaining vote were approved of the Lord to their leaders before being presented to the membership of the Church” (Ensign, May 1974, Alma P. Burton, BYU Professor of Church History and Doctrine).
  •  “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (1890 Wilford Woodruff)

Well, well, well. All false. You can’t trust prophets. Full stop. When such an immense failure of judgement carries on through the best part of 200 years against one class of people – causing them such heartache, anxiety and grief, then we must ask the question: Why follow or identify with such an awful institution as representatives of God? Also, how can such an organization ever be trusted to tell us the truth about what God wants for us? In light of such a blundering mess – such a monumental absurd mistake, is it any wonder the church continues, from time to time, issuing senseless, cruel and hurtful instructions – such as the new policy on Gay couples and their children?

WAS IT REALLY A REVELATION ANYWAY?

Firstly, consider that the church was under considerable pressure to do something about their racist discrimination. Some of the pressures upon them were:

  • Increased boycotting of games against BYU
  • A general mood of dislike in the country of LDS discrimination
  • Pressure from Boy Scouts of America against the church
  • Many missionaries ashamed of their church’s stance
  • Tax exemption status, threatened unless change occurred
  • Less and less likelihood of increased membership from African nations

In an interview with Elder Le Grand Richards on the 16th August 1978, where he was asked a number of questions about the detail of the deliberations to ascertain God’s will; he described the decision to lift the ban as a ‘negative revelation.’ This was confirmed later by other General Authorities. The following quote is found in: http://www.mormonthink.com/blackweb.htm#eventsleadingto1978 under the sub heading: Events before the 1978 revelation:

“We were told, by visiting General Authorities and others from the Church Office Building, that it was not a revelation, but a “negative revelation.” That is, the First Presidency and the Twelve decided to tell the Lord that they were going to change the policy regarding blacks and the LDS priesthood “unless He gave them a sign to the contrary.” In the absence of any sign, they changed the policy. No one officially coming over from SLC to the MTC at the time denied this story. It was later that I heard the word “revelation” actually used in conjunction with it. But Elder Le Grand Richard’s statements in his interview with Chris Vlachos and Wesley P. Walters supports this version of the events”

 THE PROJECTION OF BLAME

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I’m glad the church has finally faced their responsibilities and admitted in their ‘Race and the Priesthood’ essay, that the ban was based on racial prejudice. However, rather like children who own-up to their naughtiness – they have endeavoured to shift the blame sideways onto anyone else, except themselves. Thus, the LDS hierarchy used phraseology and words in this essay, which I find weird – to say the least. If you, or I, were owning-up to a big mistake and giving an apology, we would likely use phrases like:

  • I told people wrongly….
  • I thought this was the correct course, but I was wrong…
  • Yes, I used to teach the following…
  • Years ago, I did not know any better…
  • I was just doing what everyone else was doing…
  • It was completely my fault…
  • So sorry for the hurt and pain I caused

But, what did we find in ‘Race and the Priesthood’ from the church?

This is some of the phraseology:

  • The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority….
  • According to one view, which had been promulgated….
  • Those who accepted this view believed that God’s “curse” on Cain….
  • The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions….
  • Around the turn of the century, another explanation gained currency: blacks were said to have been less than fully valiant in….

It takes a profound lack of openness and humility to talk as if the problem (in this case – a shockingly terrible blunder, affecting an entire race) actually belonged to someone, or somebody else? As if it was some other church they were talking about? Look again and notice how they leave the impression of exoneration from personal blame. It is stupidly confusing to admit that the ban was wrong, yet dump the blame on the members and society in generally. What also compounds the senseless nature of this communication is the denial of the real origins, or reasons for the ban.

GOD NEVER STARTED THE PRIESTHHOD BAN

So God never did inspire, or give a revelation to start the ban – and if He did not install it in the first place, what kind of revelation should Spencer W Kimball have expected back in 1978, when the Revelation (Declaration 2) was given?

You can answer that question. If you were God and this entire immoral and hateful doctrine had been laid at YOUR door and you noticed 12 or 15 men supplicating in the temple to find out if you were ready to ‘restore’ that priesthood – what would you communicate? (providing you actually were the God of that church)

What should we expect the Lord to say and what kind of revelation might explode in that temple? Well, the only facts we have to go on, are the words of Spencer W. Kimball:

“. . . . the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church. President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple . . . . He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows there-from, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or colour. We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.”

Sincerely yours,

Spencer W. Kimball, Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney

The First Presidency

That happened in 1978, about 35 years before this arrogant and confusing essay on Race and the Priesthood. But blame and denial apart, the LDS church at last admitted the priesthood ban never came from God, yet here they are above, trying to persuade us that God gave them a revelation where He – in effect – announces “the time has come” to restore the priesthood…. as if He, God, was simply complying with their united prayer to bring it back?

That strikes me as crazy. Any other decent God would have thundered down with a severe element of anger and chastisement (even if He afterwards showed an increase of love). We should have had President Kimball saying something like:

“Brethren and sisters of the church, the Lord has revealed his will to us, his servants. We have been severely chastened for failing to live so as to understand and discern that He never intended his Black children to suffer so badly with the denial of the priesthood. He has warned us about obsessive worldliness, which has caused the heavens to weep. We have felt so bad to hear Him condemn our stupidity; nevertheless, the Lord has said He will forgive us, if we correct our past mistakes immediately”

By contrast, listen to Gordon B. Hinckley – then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve – remembering it this way:

“There was a hallowed and sanctified atmosphere in the room. For me, it felt as if a conduit opened between the heavenly throne and the kneeling, pleading prophet of God who was joined by his Brethren…. “

Despite my own anger and disillusionment with the church, such a revelation, which I have just suggested, would have been pretty impressive and real. And this is the major hurdle and problem I have. What they gave us in the summer of 1978 was in complete contradiction with their admission in 2013 ‘Race and the Priesthood.’ The church has acted as if God had APPROVED and DIRECTED the racist ban on the Blacks in the first place!

What we have been given is an embarrassment to logic and reason. It is also a complete contradiction. The church has now said the ban was NOT a revelation, but based on prevailing cultural attitudes of the times. Why then would they need to go and supplicate in the temple and ask God if it was His will to restore it? The whole scenario of the ban and God finally coming through in 1978 to tell his prophet in effect “fine, you can now go ahead and give them the priesthood,” must be false, in light of what they are now saying!

Something is badly wrong. Some form of Dementia is affecting the hierarchy. Blatant Denials or loss of Memory… either the church is lying, or is suffering from some form of Corporate Alzheimer?

Suffering Children

 

Back in November last year (2015) Christopher D. Cunningham wrote an article on ‘The 9 Facebook Myths About the Church’s New LGBT Policy.

http://lds.net/blog/buzz/lds-news/myths-on-new-mormons-and-gays-policy/

This my response to most of it…. please note: The Capitals – mainly at the outset, are from the article above and are Christopher’s words, not mine.

 

“EVEN THOUGH THESE ARE PROCEDURAL CHANGES THAT REAFFIRM A CORE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH, THE CHURCH’S OPPONENTS HAVE WASTED LITTLE TIME IN BEGINNING THEIR ATTACK” Just ‘procedural changes,’ so shouldn’t really be a big deal to either member or ex-member? Well, what if another procedural change, was to place all children of Gay parents at the front of the primary opening exercises once per month so that kids from Straight parents can laugh them to tears? Ok, I know – I know, a rather bazaar idea, yet if such a silly rule should be adopted, how terrible for those children! Just to excuse it as a mere ‘procedural change,’ is a complete denial of its significance and cruelty – as if those who oppose it are being picky…. such a trivial thing to object to! So, the cruelty, isolationism, stigmatization and insensitivity toward children, that came as revelation, is just a ‘procedural change,’ Oh, that’s ok then.

Myth #1 THESE CHANGES PUNISH CHILDREN

“THE MOST PERVASIVE MYTH YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THESE CHANGES IS THAT THEY PUNISH CHILDREN. ALL PEOPLE CAN RECEIVE ALL THE ORDINANCES OF SALVATION AND EXALTATION. AND ALL CHILDREN CAN ATTEND ALL CHURCH ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS. THERE IS NO DEGREE OF PUNISHMENT THAT EXISTS IN THESE NEW CHANGES. CHILDREN MUST SIMPLY WAIT UNTIL THEY CAN LEGALLY MAKE THEIR OWN DECISION TO JOIN THE CHURCH, RATHER THAN RELYING ON THEIR PARENT’S APPROVAL.” Oh that’s wonderful too then – thank goodness that children of say, 3 to 8 are actually mature enough – who must, it seems, be quite capable and adequately adjusted in life to deal with the stigma and sense of shame that comes as naturally and as effortlessly, as sewer water through a pipe – distilling disapproval and contamination upon their pure souls, as they struggle to identify why they and their parents are part of a systematic persecution program?

“WHILE A PARENT IN A SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIP COULD THEORETICALLY APPROVE OF THEIR CHILD’S BAPTISM, QUESTIONING THEIR MOTIVATION TO DO SO WOULD BE PRUDENT SINCE THEY HAVE SO PROMINENTLY REJECTED THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH.” What a judgmental stance: ‘rejected the teachings.’ Oh my word, they must have completely thrown the towel in? Erased their entire testimony; dumped years of profound influence of making wise and loving choices; eradicated the affects of study, prayer, past sacrifice, association and service….. thus making them so unfit to know whether their child is ready for baptism? What a sanctimonious and altogether dismissive thing to say. Shame indeed.

But we learn here also, that the church is merely trying to ‘protect’ children? In my opinion the church absolutely had no such intentions, but if they can latch on to a benefit, this nasty and abusive rule will appear kinder. The truth is, the church has not the slightest idea what is good or harmful for a child and acts generally within the confines of religiously dogmatized ideas, that acquiesce to whichever parent is most active and whatever expands membership.

Myth #2 TREATS LGBT PEOPLE WORSE THAN OTHER SINNERS

What is clear, is that the church regards all moral transgressions (whether Straight or Gay, single or married) with their ongoing paranoia of purity codes. In this respect, fornicating youth can meet the same discipline as elicit single Gay sex.

However, Straight youth are not penalized for ‘appropriate sex’ once married – Gays are; they can NEVER find any approval or acceptance from the church, in either having, or celebrating a permanent loving relationship. It is not a myth to maintain, that in general, children from within Gay relationships ARE treated worse. If the hierarchy believes in Christian teachings, then they will recognize the concept of ‘Sinfulness’ within all members, or what they often refer to as: ‘The Natural Man,’ It is endemic. Every Saint is a sinner with a daily baggage of little transgressions. (I might add, these are no longer my ideas, but they are nevertheless canonized into Mormon philosophy and scripture). Such things as anger, hatred, greed, arrogance, conceit, ingratitude, indifference, harshness, abuse, jealousy, envy, dishonesty and sustained unkindness…. All these, and many more, are aspects of the same mess which share the same body as inner beauty, love, goodness, humility and unselfishness. But, there is no significant ‘badness’ or ‘goodness’ in us, which should especially penalize these little children, or their guardians. But the church with its harsh purity codes, seeks to always label and punish. Targeting children is another new low for Mormonism.

We should not be shocked by this. The church has always failed to value people from the perspective of their deepest and innermost condition. Sexual orientation, sexual transgression – even on the mildest level, is magnified so greatly in the eyes of the hierarchy that they are blind to the shining identity of each soul. Children and suicidal youth are now their latest victims.

“Myth #3 VIOLATES THE CHURCH’S 2ND ARTICLE OF FAITH

I’m not really interested in this argument, either for, or against.

“Myth #4 REQUIRES CHILDREN TO REJECT PARENTS

The idea that this requirement does not, or will not, cause tensions, a sense of disloyalty, conflict and possible damage with their parental relationships, is false. Of course it will cause problems. It reminds me of the cursed policy to deny non-member loved-ones, access to witness temple marriages…. only the church’s continuing and relentless unkindness, and their nasty tendency toward arrogance and control, stands in the way.

Myth #5 PLACES NEWBORN CHILDREN IN STATE OF APOSTASY

No, children are just pawns the church uses; the considered ‘apostates’ are the parents. The church and its spokespeople are mealy-mouthed with words of love and caring; how opposite are their real intentions, or at least, the actual effect upon people. Only deluded fools will follow the line that all this is to protect children. The truth is – this policy antagonizes the relationships it purports to safeguard. Why should such children have to ‘disavow’ the status of their parents? It is just a technicality, to suggest they are not required to say a word about their parents, when we all know very well, that that is what, in effect, they are being asked to do! Will they also be asked to ‘disavow’ Black prejudice, blood atonement, polygamy, or suicide bombers? Will ALL adults seeking to be baptized be asked such questions? If not, why not? It’s a policy of alienation, but the church is not honest enough to admit it.

“Myth #6 CHURCH IS DEPRIVING ITSELF OF LGBT MEMBERS

I share John Dehlin’s view, that the church is indeed depriving itself of so many great LGBT people. In addition, it deprives itself of so many Straight ex members, who might have stayed, had they felt unjudged and valuable. The logic of course is that this is a myth because LGBT members who persist in their life style choice (as with any other cohabiting members) create their own barrier through their own sins.

Whether it is a myth, depends on one’s fundamental beliefs about God, the church, human beings and individual conscience. Ironic to me, is the realization by many, that Joseph Smith himself was ‘sin personified’ in the area of moral behaviour. I would say without hesitation, that to trust God on the topic of Smith’s claimed character, is to be twice bitten, in claiming the church’s present policy represents the Divine Will. I remember that first cosy chat between Elder Christofferson and their own PR representative – announcing this new Revelation and how Christ was immediately dragged in as if to vindicate their pernicious definition of ‘caring’ and ‘love.’ Once – now deceased – an old English Cleric by the name of Jessop, who had the wisdom this church seems to have lost, coined a phrase most suitable. He, speaking of Law and Love, used the phrase: “The Badness of Goodness.” It describes that strange situation of a religious body being so paranoid about ‘righteousness,’ that they create badness.

“Is there anything so implacable as moral rigour? In its secular form it is harsh enough, but when it is part of a religious life, deriving its sanctions from God, it can be inexorable to the point of fiendishness . . . . . They had a view of life that made particular affection often wrong and general duty always right. In them moral rigorism showed its perfect fruit, goodness consistently leading to bad­ness.”

“Myth #7 THIS HURTS ME PERSONALLY

Yes indeed, I agree – axe murderers and child rapist might also think that their feelings matter too. Interestingly, those who have ‘Come out,’ as well as those who have become ex members, have, generally, been on the ‘inside’ of Mormonism for decades (I myself for over 40 years) We have known the experience of conversion, the sacred and the holy. We were part of the same spirit and we KNEW what it meant and what it felt like to be wholly immersed in the LDS culture. Now we have come upon a different shore where we have found our more authentic selves. Contrary to the actual myth still perpetuated by the church – that we have LOST the spirit – I assure you we never LOST anything! Everything we ever did, everything we ever felt and everything we ever experienced was locked down in memory and is part of who we are. We have a white-hot memory; a vivid recollection of both the good and the bad; the tears, the fasting, the obedience and the sacrifices. We remember what it felt like to both think and feel as LDS. We have one single advantage over those who never stood apart for long enough to re-evaluate what was once chosen. And what strikes me is how naïve and stupid I was. I had no idea how badly my brain was dulled and reality distorted. What I have noticed so frequently with orthodox LDS, is the fact that most (I did not say everyone) seem disabled and incapable of seeing a hand in front of their face! As if they are quite blind! For ex-members or Gays to express any feelings of hurt, embarrassment, anxiety or fear, in any sincere attempt that appears to challenge (by design or default) the church, inevitably falls on deaf ears. The church must be right, so in the end, your feelings don’t matter – you are part of the problem. Your hurt can never be registered – they are not capable. No wonder then, that in the face of apparent charisma, priesthood authority, smooth words, threats and intimidation, Smith got away with murder. Sacrifice, tears, endurance and obedience, come from souls who have surrendered to a religious body who are hot on rhetoric but pigmies with compassion. Yes, bleeding hearts don’t necessarily justify the persons who claim rightness, but sadly, apostles and prophets are so badly prejudiced against common sense and clear thinking, that they blunder from one fiasco to another.

“Myth #8 THE CHURCH LOST AND SHOULD MOVE ON

I think that any church to stick by its principles is good, despite popular trends. However, the church staggers forward for contradictory leverage with past U turns on all kinds of things, like temple changes, polygamy, obeying the law, Black prejudice, phased out dogmas, moth-balled doctrines, political intimidation and financial greed. Not a very shining example. Even Mr Bushman has recently stated that the church needs to adapt. I don’t actually think the church really does stand on principles anyway – it stands on its own prejudice of distorted truth and will continue to struggle until it becomes totally clean.

“Myth #9 THESE CHANGES ARE ETERNAL DOCTRINE

Part of the fear in religion is to talk about ‘Eternal Doctrine.’ It usually manages to scare the pants of most members and lull the rest away into dreams of glorious kingdoms. Bless them.

EXCOMMUNICATION -The Blame Game

As Jeremy Runnells resigns from the LDS Church just as they were about to kick him out, I reflect again upon the whole concept of Excommunication….

THE SECOND DEATH

Back in the days when I was involved in funeral work, I remember reading some guidelines which enabled us as employees to better understand how mourners come to terms with death. “The Burial,” it said, “confirms to the bereaved, that death has occurred.” That’s a bit of an odd thing to say, but it’s true. Seeing someone you love discarded into the ground, does sort of bring it home that death has actually happened!

When I stood before my disciplinary council, I was already ‘dead’ – that is, I already had experienced the ‘death’ of my faith in Mormonism. I knew I was dead, because when–at midnight–I heard the stake President announce my excommunication… at that moment, I knew (according to Mormon dogma) that my beautiful and lovely wife Norma (having died a year earlier) was severed and separated from me for all eternity and yet…. not one single nerve ending flinched in my body! Not one emotional cell trembled on the Richter scale! Here was my emotional proof that I simply did NOT believe in their absurd punishment for unworthiness; the dogma of ‘separation’ or ‘segregation’ of families. So, you would have thought, that standing there and hearing their verdict of excommunication, would (for me) be a mere formality of indifference. Not so. Believing, or feeling the church is false, is not the same as feeling rejected! The difference is that I was now being discarded, dumped, or disposed of… ‘Buried.’ One might call excommunication the 2nd death; the confirmation that you have died. Even as I write about it here, my eyes are swimming with tears. I remember the sense of utter abandonment – like a little boy discarded by his mother. I ask myself the question: What must it feel like to be buried alive, still holding faith… still believing, yet simply guilty of wanting answers and confronting a wall of silence.

PURGING AND PURIFYING MENTALITY

The fact is, that the vast majority of LDS excommunications are for immorality. I would not dispute that at one time or another, we all do things for which we should feel ashamed or guilty. That’s healthy and normal, but the entire concept of the LDS church regarding the management, disciple and punishment of our human nature, is not only obscene, but intrinsically unhealthy.

I am not talking about legitimate guilt or shame for some unbecoming conduct. I am talking about the whole principle and reason the church wants to hold a court in the first place…. the attitude and rigidness that forces an organisation to exclude rather than embrace; the compulsion to humiliate, abuse, embarrass, punish and believe God approves – is the very antithesis of Christ. I find it ironic indeed, that a church – one which eventually got the name ‘Christ’ in its title, has established procedures regarding ‘sin’ or ‘apostasy,’ which are diametrically opposite to the whole ethos of Christ, so that they–the church–have become the greatest Blasphemous of His name! ‘Courts of love’ is a relatively recent description, perpetuated by General Authorities in the hope of portraying this nasty business with a more caring and loving approach to human frailty. That is a complete deception.

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest – an international speaker and author, wrote the following in his book ‘Hope Against Darkness’….

“ . . . . it is amazing that institutional Christianity ever created the very concept of excommunication. Only the individual can do that to himself, and we had best not make it our corporate concern. Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world, has never excommunicated anybody”

In his book ‘Everything Belongs’, he also says:

“All other systems exclude, expel, punish and protect to find identity for their members in ideological perfection, or some kind of ‘purity.’ The contaminating element always has to be searched out and scolded.”

Projecting blame and guilt upon individuals, reminds me of something he pointed out about ‘scapegoating,’ which was a practice in ancient Israel of placing all the sins of the people upon the head of a goat on the Day of Atonement, which was then cast out into the wilderness. We think of that word now as meaning someone on whom we may place ‘blame’… usually unfairly. To quote Richard Rohr again:

“Scapegoating depends upon a rather sophisticated, but easily learned ability to compartmentalize, to separate, to divide the world into pure and the impure. Anthropologically, all religion begins with the creation of the ‘impure’ and very soon an entire moral system of taboos, punishments, fears, guilt’s and EVEN PRIESTHOOD TO ENFORCE IT emerges. It gives us a sense of order, control and superiority, which is exactly what the ego wants and the small self demands. The absolute religious genius of Jesus is that he utterly refuses all debt codes, purity codes, religious quarantines and the searching for sinners. He refuses the very starting point of historical religions. He refuses to divide the world into the pure and the impure, much to the chagrin of almost everybody – then and now.” (My capitals)

That’s what Mormonism does – it separates, divides and punishes… the very opposite of Christ. The church talks about Gods love but demands the very opposite of what Christ demonstrated on earth – it blames, punishes, excludes, and demands conformity and absolute purity.

MORMONISM IS IN DENIAL OF GREY.

Those of us who have lived a while understand the mystery of living with Paradox and Contradiction. We are beings of inconsistency and ragged ends. We feel intimately and terribly our brokenness and if we do not, then we either do not think at all, or we have not passed through serious temptations or suffering. We all live rather badly with our Shadow Self – much more so when bullied and cajoled by a given priesthood to eradicate and purge our human nature. Experience and exposure to priesthood council has taught me that Mormonism is blind to ‘neutral tones’ – it only sees Black or White. As an artist, I wish to inform you, that the expression of REALITY is within the tones of Greys. The nearer we get to fundamentalism and extreme ideologies, the more comfortable we are with Black and White thinking, or living in Unreality.

“Black-and-white, simplistic thinking. This is one of the predominant symptoms of religious addiction. You see life in terms of right or wrong, good or bad, saved or sinner. You never see the grey areas. Your need for order, perfection, or control is so strong that anything that is not clearly black or white confuses or perhaps frightens you. Those who turn to religion as a means to avoid error are no doubt attracted to the black-and-white aspects of a rigid dogmatism . . . . You limit and stunt your life by rejecting anyone or anything that does not fit into your narrow frame of reference. You become abusive of others who do not share your views because difference, variety, and change all fall into the ambiguous grey areas, with which you cannot cope. Such shades of grey become the uncontrollable elements in life that Nakken says all addicts are trying to master. You increase your pain, he says, by becoming more rigid, harsh, and dogmatic the more you are confronted with situations that fall outside your simplistic views.” (Unknown author)

The church can’t live easily with the ambiguity, contradictions or paradox (our Grey areas), so we are asked to get rid of them – hide them, expel them, or we may be expelled. This is why they also cannot tolerate their own messy, dirty grey history… they live in denial and suppression for the same reasons – blindness to the Grey. Now we begin to glimpse their arrogance and hypocrisy, in maintaining at all costs the ‘Good name of the Church.’ We, however, are not allowed to remain ‘worthy’ and ‘obedient’ at the same time as learning to ACCEPT our own inconsistencies. Either we must have control NOW, or they will take control. My excommunication is a point in fact. Patience with disobedience and weakness cannot be tolerated. Change MUST be immediate. Failure to get it together (get it out the way) means punishment. Graciousness (Grace) is abandoned.

“There are no perfect structures and there are no perfect people. There is only the struggle to get there. Patience comes from our attempts to hold together an always-mixed reality, not from expecting or demanding a perfect reality. That only makes us resentful and judgemental, which is what has characterized much of Christian history. I agree with Bishop Spong when he says: “I don’t like religious people very much.” Who likes people who can never deal patiently with darkness and shadow – which is just about everything?”

Richard Rohr, ‘Hope Against Darkness’ Page 164.

Mormonism does not deal easily or adequately with this Darkness within you. It is very frightened of it and ashamed of it. It tends to either force you to fix it, or failing that, it wants you to bury it… to deny it… to suppress it – just so long as it is hidden from view. In the case of Kate,  John and Jeremy – who were not guilty of any immorality, it (the church) will make little differentiation. It will be equally unable to deal with their ‘diversity,’ and ‘authenticity.’ The same blunt hammer will be used.

ACCEPTANCE OF SELF

But in general, this is the essential Paradox – we appear to be good and bad, clean and filthy, beautiful and ugly, innocent and guilty, the same yet different – all at the same time. Our inherent weaknesses and nasty little habits collide with good aspirations and kindly characteristics. That is the Contradiction – the Paradox of life – the Grey tones.

We are messy creatures and a religion that demands ‘purity’ will not tolerate contradictions and disarray! You must become Black or White, but NOT grey – not both! If you should stray into your Shadow Side, you will be punished.

We once wanted to believe we had high ideals and good moral character. We wanted a clearly defined dogma – to know exactly what God expected from us. We wanted a precise understandable description of what God was – all the procedures and regulations necessary to please Him. We wanted to submit to the control and proscribed regulations to virtually guarantee our salvation – with rewards and punishments to keep us safe and sound. Living under a fabricated idealism required that we virtually denied the real face of life with all its contradictions, mess, hypocrisy, sin, weakness, and suffering – a world which is both broken and whole at the same time – both good and bad…. WE ARE this contradiction… so is the ‘official’ church.

“My religious experience has taught me the importance of distinguishing between religion and spirituality, the former basically believed in or adhered to, and the latter primarily experienced. Not to make the distinction can lead to a repetitious, stifled, irresponsible life confused easily with service to God. Many religions with the original intent of leading to spiritual growth or harmony with Divine consciousness have come to make their structure, ritual, tradition and authority more important than the people whose consciousness they intended to influence. In doing so, they incite to conformity with a doctrine based on sin and fear of punishment—an unfortunate approach that, once believed, is eradicated only with difficulty. Such negative motivation inhibits creativity and freedom . . . . “

Catholic priest Arthur Melville from his book, ’With Eyes To See’

The Institutional Church of Mormonism has not done what the Christ they claim to believe in, has done. He took the Dark side and without blaming, denying or punishing, allowed the love of God to absorb and transform it. Despite its rhetoric, Mormonism fails on the same ground. As a supposedly spiritual refuge or shelter for its members, it should hold their pain and embrace the brokenness and ache in their lives, but sadly, it won’t do anything that is strange or chaotic – anything that acknowledges ACCEPTANCE of life’s contradictions – its greyness. It still persists in the denial of its own sins – the dark side of its own arrogance, suppression and deception, and yet it demands the same of its members; It asks them to eradicate (quite often impossible) or repress (deny) or it will blame and punish, separate, exclude, stigmatise and scapegoat, until it gains control.

The likes of Kate, John and Jeremy, are holding up a mirror to the hierarchy, and they should be ashamed of what they see.

 

 

 

 

 

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You mean… you think you Know the Godhead.

150px-St-thomas-aquinas[1]A Response to Elder Holland’s Jan 2016 Ensign article.
Recently, something struck me as completely ironic; it was an article in the January 2016 Ensign, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland – a repeat of an address entitled ‘The Godhead,’ delivered during a seminar for new mission presidents at the Provo Missionary Training Centre on June 23, 2013. This Ensign article was entitled ‘Knowing the Godhead.’ In it, Elder Holland starts by reminding the Saints that a CORRECT idea of the Godhead and their attributes, is essential to worshipping properly and being saved eternally. He wrote:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God.” Furthermore, he added, “I want you all to know Him, and to be familiar with Him.” We must have “a correct idea of his … perfections, and attributes” and an admiration for “the excellency of [His] character.” (bold emphasis mine)
He goes on to write that a CORRECT understanding about God is essential from those who know the truth:
“Many of those “fish” (referring to missionary contacts) in our expanding frontier do not know who God is or what His Fatherhood is actually like; they do not know who Jesus Christ really is or why His is the only name given under heaven whereby we may be saved (see Acts 4:12); they do not know who the Holy Ghost is or why this member of the Godhead “was sent forth to teach the truth” . . . . . Ultimately, “true and saving worship is found only among those who know the truth about … the Godhead.”
Then, after describing the LDS God and how He should be worshipped, he states:

“Few of our investigators will know that kind of God now, in or out of contemporary Christianity.” He then depicts other types of God as possibly: “ethereal mist or vague philosophical First Cause, or a deistic absentee landlord” (bold emphasis mine)
He also quotes Elder McConkie to reinforce his point:
“Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded us that Lucifer understands the significance of such doctrine, even if we don’t. He said:
“There is no salvation in believing … false doctrine, particularly a false or unwise view about the Godhead or any of its members.…
“It follows that the devil would rather spread false doctrine about God and the Godhead, and induce false feelings with reference to any one of them, than almost any other thing he could do.” (bold emphasis mine)
So why is Elder Holland’s message so ironic?
It is ironic, because Smith himself declared and gave witness of a ‘Protestant type God’ for the first 18 years after his ‘Visitation of Angels’ (changed later to the ‘First Vision’) A thoroughly Trinitarian concept–along biblical lines–as attested by the Book of Mormon, which absolutely taught (originally), that the Son was basically the Father ‘incarnate’ and the Holy Ghost being simply the ‘Mind of God’ (not a personage). The Church of course, has since altered specific verses in the Book of Mormon to make the Godhead appear separate. They have said it made for greater ‘Clarity.’ What! Clarity? More like Confusion. It was a total identity change – a complete makeover from ‘One Eternal Father’ to the ‘Father AND the Son.’ Just to give you one of many examples that could be used:
1830 Edition: p.25 lines 10-11. And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!… (One God incarnate)
1981 Edition: 1 Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!… (Two Gods)
That makes God in the first edition, a different person in the next edition! Also, the Book of Mormon has always declared God to be a personage of ‘Spirit’ (not having a body with flesh and bones, nor 3 personages – just one). Jim Whitefield said:
“The truth is that Smith originally wrote the Book of Mormon monotheistically, because at that time, he believed God and Jesus Christ were indeed one and the same being, just as mainstream Christians do. It wasn’t the Nephites who were confused or didn’t record things accurately; they were a figment of Smith’s imagination. It was Smith’s creative mind that kept introducing new ideas, some of which then conflicted with his previous thinking and therefore his earlier writings. It was only later that his ideas controversially evolved into polytheism, by which time much had already been written which contradicted Smith’s new theology. His writings are still interlaced with many unaltered monotheistic (Trinitarian) statements.” (The Mormon Delusion Vol.2)
It is true, there are verses here and there – in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, where Jesus appears separate from the Father – such as when praying to the Father. Nevertheless, the ‘three in one’ Trinitarian concept is very strong in both books. The ‘Lectures of Faith’ penned by Smith and now discarded from the D&C, taught the same Trinitarian view. Jim continues:
“An integral part of the original Doctrine and Covenants was the Lectures of Faith. Whilst these lectures were removed from canonised scripture in 1921 and no longer form the ‘Doctrine’ part of the D&C, the seven lectures were once deemed the very foundation of Church doctrine. Following them being taught in the School of the Prophets, they were actually supposed to be memorised, such was their doctrinal significance. Lecture Five in particular, became an embarrassment for the Church and although still available today, the lectures are seldom referred to and are now largely ignored and conveniently forgotten.
. . . . . Smith still believed God was a spirit without a body and Jesus alone had a resurrected body. In his mind, they constituted one God. The tradition of the trinity was firmly held by Smith. As already discussed, D&C 130:22, which was written on 2 April 1843, confirmed Smith’s new theology, which appears to have evolved from around 1836-1837 onwards: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” The Mormon Delusion Vol. 2 (bold emphasis mine)
Notice above – in 1843, Smith states the Holy Ghost is a ‘personage of spirit.’ Previously he had thought and taught that the Holy Ghost was merely ‘the Mind’ of God. You notice Smith did not say what form this personage took? The idea that this spirit was an un-embodied ‘male’ personage was not known or suggested by Smith, nor was it suggested by any Prophet; that is, not until 1893 when three intellectual LDS theologians – B.H. Roberts, James E. Talmage and John A Widtsoe, became the chief architects of a New (and officially approved) Church alteration in the very nature of the Godhead!
According to Thomas G. Alexander, in his ‘THE RECONSTRUCTION OF MORMON DOCTRINE’ these three men: “established the Church’s basic doctrines of the Godhead and had undertaken a reconstruction which doctrine [went] far beyond anything described in the ‘Lectures on Faith’ (by Smith) or generally believed by Church members prior to 1838.”
To add to the madness, Brigham Young adopted what Smith (late in his life) had taught: that Adam was God, the Father of our spirits. This concept of God’s identity was no surprise to the saints from 1844, till Young’s death in 1877, (though some odd leaders struggled against it). It was even utilised by Young as part of a ‘lecture at the veil’ in the temple endowment ceremony. However, no sooner was Brigham cold in the grave, when successive leaders began to distance themselves from his Adam/God teaching. Finally, the three afore mentioned theologians, put it to death and completely dispensed with it.

The Church today say it was never a doctrine, but it was; just as in these days, the Church has produced an essay on ‘Race and the Priesthood’ wherein they use language in blatant denial of their clearly defined past reasons for withholding the Priesthood from the Blacks – as if it were all based on member speculation and supposition – as if it was nothing to do with them! I find their shrouded repudiation extraordinary.
But think for a moment…. Smith claimed a ‘First Vision’ of the Godhead, which was the first opportunity for God Himself (since the apostasy and Dark Ages) To verbally and properly declare His identity – thus saving the entire world from ongoing confusion?  So God failed miserably. Then, to cap it all – for nearly 2 decades, Smith taught us about a DIFFERENT Godhead in ALL his original Church scripture – including the Lectures of Faith, Book of Commandment and Book of Mormon. And God never bothered to correct him. 
Why ?

Because he never had a Vision of the Father and Son. He simply back-dated a new brain-wave idea in 1838 and slotted it into a 1820 pretended experience (a time when he only spoke of seeing angels, Moroni and gold plates – not the Father and the Son). Such a claim in 1838, lent him a greater authoritative power, during a period of alarming apostasy with a number of his key leaders.
So, Smith’s ‘Protestant’ God, utilised from the cultural beliefs of his time – right up till 1835 -1842, was far removed from the present day reconstructed Mormon God. The God of Smith’s later life was diminished into the concept of a glorified man – a plurality of them – strewn across the infinite universe. This was about the time he invented ‘The Book of Abraham’ as well. Also, the time he was heavily into sex with anybody’s wife and anybody’s daughter. This entire rotten concept of the female role in heaven as spirit breeding machines to patriarchs, further promoted the misogynistic abuse of women in his lifetime. In fact, Smith, Young and all other prophets, merely reflected the anthropomorphic God within them – who they were.
Hence, the nastiness, pettiness and prejudice of Smith’s God and Young’s God. By contrast, I remember the kindness of one prophet in my own lifetime (1964) David O.McKay. Someone on the Mormon Curtain remembers President McKay as I did. The anthropomorphic God of McKay was manifestly different, as can be detected in this very simple comment:
“When people complained about some girls in the July 24th parade being in swimsuits and “not dressed appropriately, McKay said, “I didn’t see anyone who wasn’t beautiful.”
If men like Oaks, Ballard, Nelson and Monson had the same soul as President McKay, perhaps today’s same-sex couples might have been more celebrated and their children less persecuted? Instead, we have seen the callous – sometimes vicious God, which these men mirror. In his article Elder Holland includes the rhetoric of kindness and tolerance of other faiths, but his message is very different – it has that same harsh ‘we are true’ – ‘you are false’ emphasis. What is even worse, he proclaims other beliefs and other non-LDS methods of worship as ‘not real’ which cannot have the same result as an LDS belief. As always, arrogance is not far from any form of fundamentalist certitude.
Holland lambasts other ideas of the Godhead thus:
“Many evolutions and iterations of religious creeds have greatly distorted the simple clarity of true doctrine, declaring the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable; without body, parts, or passions; and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds, all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.”
When reading such words, I think of the Nicene Creed, given in 325 A.D. and written to express the ancient Church’s teachings about the Trinity and the affirmation of their historical belief in the realities of Jesus’ life. As many as 1,800 bishops, priests and deacons met to hammer out a number of matters during the occasion of the Nicene Creed. One line from the Catholic News Herald, intrigued me:
“Many of the bishops had the marks of persecution on their faces – they had faced the threat of death for their faith and they were sensitive to details of doctrine. These were not wishy-washy men.”
In the Catholic bashing days of Talmage and McConkie (authors of ‘The Great Apostasy’ ‘Articles of Faith’ and ‘Mormon Doctrine’) the Nicene Creed was derided. And yet, this founder Joseph Smith believed and established the self-same Trinitarian concept of God but I never saw it, till I stood back from Mormonism. If you read the Book of Mormon and the Lectures of Faith – looking for this type of God, He will jump out of the page at you! I find it quite laughable and ironic that Holland brags and promotes the LDS God that can save the world, yet fails to see the same ‘man-made’ evolution of Deity within his own Church?

Lastly, from Holland….
“So no investigator can come into this Church with a real testimony, with real conversion, with what we are seeking for and calling real growth in each convert, unless he or she has had at least the beginning of some personal, spiritual, true experience with God. That kind of true experience can come only when there is the realization that He is a real being, an actual person, a literal Father of flesh and bone who speaks and sees and feels, who knows all His children’s names and all their needs, who hears all their prayers, and who wants all His children in His Church.” (Bold emphasis mine)
Correction Elder Holland: Real conversion, Real growth and True spiritual experiences have been claimed from all kinds of believers within all kinds of faiths with all kinds of possible Gods… and if they happen to bring communion, deep peace and meaning, then they are as valid as any other sales pitch on the Almighty.

Some helpful links to my remarks:

Adam/God theory:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam%E2%80%93God_doctrine
David O’McKay:   http://mormoncurtain.com/topic_davidomckay.html
‘THE RECONSTRUCTION OF MORMON DOCTRINE’ By Thomas G. Alexander: http://www.lds-mormon.com/changod.shtml
Elder Holland’s Ensign talk:   https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/01/knowing-the-godhead?lang=eng
Origins of the Nicene Creed:  http://www.catholicnewsherald.com/our-faith/200-news/roknewspager-yearfaith/2718-the-nicene-creed-and-its-origins?showall=&start=1

Article 2. The coming and going of Lyman Johnson

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Where Lyman lived – the Johnson home

Smith stays a year at the Johnson home

The revelation entitled ‘3 Degrees of Glory’ (Section 76) was received by Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon on 16th February 1832 at John Johnson’s home, at Hiram. (father to Lyman and Luke Johnson) Sydney Rigdon and his wife were lodged across the road in a log cabin. The Johnson property estimated 300 acres of farmland and was a big enough residence for Emma, Joseph and their two twins to stay. And they did for one year. It served as a haven in which the Prophet could live and work in peace. This was where, with the assistance of Sidney Rigdon, he laboured on the translation of the Bible.[1]

“From this home in November 1831, Luke and Lyman Johnson were called to fulfil missions. This occupied much of their time for the next six years . . . . After Joseph was tarred and feathered, however, continual harassment by the mobs forced the Johnsons to leave Hiram and move to Kirtland. In Kirtland they were given opportunities to mature spiritually and to give leadership and financial help to the growing Church . . . . In 1834 Joseph Smith organized Zion’s Camp, and Luke departed from Kirtland with a group. In a few days, Lyman and others joined them, and the two brothers marched, learned, and grew under the tutelage of the Prophet of God. They learned their lessons well and proved themselves worthy to be called, in February 1835, to be two of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve . . . . Lyman had the privilege of being the first apostle to be ordained and set apart as member of that quorum in this dispensation. (See History of the Church, 2:187–88.)

Three months later the Twelve Apostles left on missions, departing from John Johnson’s inn in Kirtland. As members of the Twelve, Luke, Lyman, and Orson spent much of their time on missions, bringing many into the Church.”[2]

Things start going wrong at the bank

It might be less known fact, that John Johnson gave $3000 to Smith to help with the work and ministry of the Church. His sons Luke and Lyman Johnson, also John Boynton, were amongst the first apostles of the restoration. They gave great sacrifice to the Church, fulfilling missions and being obedient – that is, until the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Bank. Lyman had placed $6,000 in this bank and lost it all.

The failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, a bank founded by church leaders, led to widespread dissent in 1837. The church held a high council trial on September 3, 1837, which ejected Johnson, his brother Luke, and John F. Boynton from the Quorum of the Twelve. Boynton explained that his difficulties with the church resulted from “the failure of the bank” which he had understood “was instituted by the will and revelations of God, and he had been told that it would never fail.” [3] (Bold emphasis mine)

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It would seem that Boynton, Lyman and Luke started to appreciate the contrast between what Smith had predicted was going to happen to the bank, with what actually did happen. Believing and saying that the bank “was instituted by the will and revelations of God, and it would never fail” was purely from Smith’s imagination. Imagination and Vision are much the same thing. He was, after all, gifted with a powerful and fanciful imagination and over time, probably lost the ability to discern the difference between reality and illusion. For those who would like to read the lies and the truth about Smith’s bank, in more detail – see footnote [4] below.

The ‘Zion Camp’ failure

Furthermore, Lyman had witnessed first-hand, the utter failure of ‘Zion’s Camp’ (Smith’s army) to rescue the Saints in Missouri from persecution and bring about the redemption of Zion (Jackson County) This whole fiasco had occurred after Parley Pratt and Lyman Wight returned from Missouri bristling with news of the Saint’s suffering and pleading and arguing with great enthusiasm to return with an army of men to defend the Saints and reclaim their lands. This came after many months of indecision by Smith, who finally feels ‘inspired’ to receive a revelation as follows:

“Behold I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must need be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm.” D&C Section 103:15–17

The interpretation the member’s came to (including Lyman Johnson) was the same that we would have come to – reading such language… that God was going to do it with power through the instrumentality of this army. Their fellow Saints in Missouri would see the hand of the Lord and be restored to their stolen lands and property. Smith had hoped for 500 men. In the end, only 100 could be mustered – including some females and children. The march would be 900 miles. The weather, lack of provisions, fatigue, sickness and wear and tear on wagons, added to the strain on everyone. In general, Smith was no better behaved than anyone else and the utter failure for him to complete or fulfil one shred of God’s ‘predicted’ redemption, must have been stored in Lyman’s mind and perhaps why in 1837, he was excommunicated and never returned – though he did visit a few times.

“In retrospect, dissenters would trace the origins of their opposition to the prophet right to the day the church was formally organized in 1830, but the first significant outburst of discontent appeared in the wake of the failure of Zion’s Camp to redeem Zion in the late summer of 1834. The camp had been born of a revelation, and it began with great excitement, mixing the exhilaration of a crusade to redeem the holy land from the infidels with righteous indignation over infringe­ment of the Saints’ republican rights. However, the spirited enthusi­asm of the brethren wore thin along with their shoes as the long hard march from Ohio to Missouri progressed. The irritation of many camp members turned to outrage when Joseph Smith called off the return to Jackson County in the face of the Missouri governor’s opposition. Although Smith attempted to mollify his followers by declaring that God had accepted their journey as an acceptable sacrifice, the whole adventure seemed a tragic farce when a deadly epidemic of cholera swept through the camp. Even recalling these events many years later, the prophet’s brother, William Smith, could find nothing redeeming in them, describing his experience as “a very fatiguing, dangerous and difficult journey; without having accomplished the object for which we undertook the task; except to visit the brethren in Missouri, suffer a great deal of trial and trouble, and come back penniless once more.

Many felt a great deal angrier than the prophet’s brother. Some loudly proclaimed their disbelief in the Book of Mormon, while others simply left the church) . . . . Smith, himself, confirmed the impression, writing on August i6 to the elders in Mis­souri, “I was met in the face and eyes, as soon as I got home, with a catalogue of charges as black as the author of lies himself . . . . [5]

Once more, Smith had been dreaming; playing Captain Moroni with his crusading war games, but when the time came to actually ‘fight’ and trust this predicted POWER of God, he capitulates. To the astonishment of his warriors, he worm’s his way out with new magic promises from his ever changing God. He promptly issues a new revelation: “Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a LITTLE season, for the redemption of Zion. For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion . . . . I will fight your battles.” D&C105: 13–14

Well, that was 181 years ago, with no signs of fulfilment? This command to wait a LITTLE season’ is the exact opposite of the revelation ordering them to form an army and rescue the members in the first place? As God would have known in advance it would fail, why did He wait till his servants had walked 900 miles in near exhaustion, with 13 dead, before He changed His mind?

Smith was a magician. And he employed the self same deceptive tactics to fool people into trusting him. His past character and trade involved expeditions of deliberate deception to find treasure. When they failed (no record of any success) he employed the same types of excuse: (1) The incantations performed at the site were not quite correct (2) The guardian angels of the treasure had moved it further down (3) A curse has been placed upon it, etc., etc. He then pacifies them with a ‘definite’ date for Zion’s redemption: “within three years they should march to Jackson County and there should not be a dog to open his mouth against them.”[6] Very shortly he set the official date for the redemption of Zion as September 11th 1836” [7]

We are still waiting! The apologist’s tell us that Smith had long left behind his treasure seeking days, which were a mere youthful pastime – not so, two years after this cock-up, in August 1836, he pretends to receive another revelation (D&C 111) to secure riches and treasures under a house in Salem, which once more, was a complete failure.

Perhaps this bungling crusade was lodged in Lyman’s mind and would at least be a later reminder that the so-called prophet was just a man, who could get things wrong – get things so very seriously wrong! As always, when Smith failed, or when the Saints failed to get some predicted blessing, the blame was dumped squarely upon them. It is nauseatingly seen throughout most pages of the D&C. It came either as an accusation by God of some form of sin, moaning, selfishness, pride or unbelief. Alternatively, Smith’s failure was sometimes excused as merely a ‘TEST OF THEIR FAITH.’ He used this face-saving method when rejected by women, whom he had preyed upon. Indeed, this is still how the Church salvages the ‘Zion Camp’ reputation – it was a refining TEST to recognise those whom Smith could trust as his future leaders.

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Lyman Johnson

Misinterpreted suffering

Interestingly, at the end of Section 76, (3 Degrees of Glory) the ‘D&C Commentary’ issues a salient warning to all those who would desert the faith, by naming brother Lyman Johnson as a particular kind of apostate’ who “never had a really happy day” after leaving the fold and ended up drowning in an accident….

“In one portion of this Revelation the eternal misery of a certain class of apostates is graphically set forth. But if such opponents of the Kingdom of God would tell the truth about themselves, they would reveal the fact that their sufferings have already commenced. Lyman E. Johnson, the first to be called to the Apostleship when the first Council of Twelve was organized, left the Church, but he never had a really happy day after that. According to President Brigham Young he, on one occasion, said, at a meeting of the Council:

“Brethren, – I will call you brethren – I will tell you the truth. If I could believe Mormonism – it is no matter whether it is true or not – but if I could believe Mormonism as I did when I travelled with you and preached, if I possessed the world I would give it. I would give any-thing. I would suffer my right hand to be cut off, if I could believe it again. Then I was full of joy and gladness. My dreams were pleasant. When I awoke in the morning, my spirit was cheerful. I was happy by day and by night, full of peace and joy and thanksgiving. But now it is darkness, pain, sorrow, misery in the extreme. I have never since seen a happy moment” [8]

Did we ever lose the spirit?

Notice what Young did?… like all prophets and apostles till this present day, he promoted the false idea that apostates CANNOT be happy, have sinned and are, and will, be punished.

In this supposed statement by Lyman Johnson, we might find some echoes from our own lives, coming away from a faith that once held so much value, meaning, and cherished associations. Whenever I’m talking to someone (non member) about my views on Mormonism, they don’t seem to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ active members can do the things they do and believe the things they do? To answer, I find myself explaining their joys, their faith, their outlook, their happiness….what makes them remain… what makes them tick. I fall back on my memory – what it was like for me… what I felt like.

The advantage for us ex-Mormons, is that we now see both sides of the same coin… what made it right for us to be in Mormonism and what made it wrong to remain – what I have called ‘Double-Angled-Vision,’ being able to see BOTH sides. When we look backward, there are things we remember with nostalgia and happiness. Yes, we were – to some extent, living through a dream and we have now woken up, but when members accuse us of ‘losing the spirit,’ they mean, completely losing what we felt. But what we felt is locked into memory. It is stored forever. It is part of what has made us what we are – who we are. Orthodox Mormons do not understand that we ex Mormons have lost NOTHING. Indeed, it is by the retrieval of our past MEMORY sensations, plus past information (when we were in that spirit) that we have been able to re-evaluate and see the CONTRAST of our own mental reactions and emotions, compared with hitherto previously unknown facts.

To put it poetically (and I think, very beautifully) is John O’Donohue:

“As we journey onward in life increasingly spaces within us fill with absence. We begin to have more and more friends among the dead. Every person suffers the absence of their past. It is utterly astonishing how the force and fibre of each day unravel into the vacant air of yesterday. You look behind you and you see nothing of your days here. Our vanished days increase our experience of absence. Yet our past does not deconstruct as if it never was. Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather. Memory rescues experience from total disappearance. The kingdom of memory is full of the ruins of presence.

It is astonishing how faithful experience actually is; how it never vanishes completely. Experience leaves deep traces in us. It is surprising, that years after something has happened to you, the needle of thought can hit some groove in the mind and the music of a long-vanished event can rise in your soul as fresh and vital as the evening it happened. Memory provides such shelter and continuity of identity. Memory is also fascinating because it is a subtle and latent presence in one’s mind. The past seems to be gone and absent. Yet the grooves in the mind hold the traces and vestiges of everything that has ever happened to us. Nothing is ever lost or forgotten . . . . it is only through the act of remembrance, literally remembering, that we can come to poise, integrity and courage . . . . We need to retrieve the activity of remembering, for it is here that we are rooted and gathered . . . . ” [9]

It seems to me, that just as orthodox Mormons today are palpably disabled from understanding the anger, betrayal and outspokenness of ex-Mormons, so in Brigham Young’s day–they were equally incapable of understanding men like Lyman Johnson. How he could voice a regret that he no longer believed and how could he re-live his memories of how things used to be, yet not remain with the Saints? You notice he would have loved to have retained belief and admitted the loss of an emotional peace that comes with the crutch of religion. He is virtually acknowledging that it was so nice to have been in delusion (in a deep contented sleep). I wonder what Lyman (who clearly saw that God’s predicted promises had failed) would have made of today’s Church? What would he say if he saw an even wider perspective of its corruption and deception and failure in 2015? I have a notion his rhetoric would be less kindly! Lastly, you notice that this man felt at home and missed some of his LDS associates – the sociality and culture. It is why he wanted to visit occasionally – retaining friendly warmth toward the members, whilst at the same time, unable to compromise his own honesty and conviction that his religious institution was a fraud not the people.

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What have you been doing wrong?

Brigham Young’s profound misunderstanding and ill informed judgement on the cause and effect of his suffering, has been continually taught and indoctrinated ever since. The very first question thrown back at me over 4 decades ago, when I admitted to a Stake Presidency Counsellor, that I no longer could say I knew the Church was true, was: “What have you been doing wrong?”

These days, it has been officially acknowledged on odd occasions, that perhaps ‘doubting,’ ‘questioning’ members, may not, after all, be guilty of any particular sin, or neglect, but just sincerely troubled, honourable Saints.

One of the most absurd and erroneous teachings, still flourishing amongst members–fed from on high–is the idea that apostasy equates with sin, laziness, rebellion or pride. Mormons are taught this explicitly through the story-line of Book of Mormon. It is endemic and imbedded into their thinking. Also endemic, is the insidious teaching that Satan will infiltrate their minds and hearts should they read, watch or listen to anything which seriously challenges their faith – particularly if it is written by an ‘apostate.’ Interestingly, all cults and dictatorships do the same to their citizens or members – limit or ban the Internet, as well as cut-off (wherever possible) or discourage correspondence with the outside world.

Under Smith and Young, the idea that the world was WICKED, (explicit in the D&C) that only SAFETY and SANCTURY could be found in Zion, and that the Wicked World would shortly be destroyed as Christ returns, was intense, but it was a lie. The legacy of this still remains amongst LDS; there is still the tendency to believe that the world is ‘wicked.’ In addition, the Church knows that if members are kept ‘busy’ with large families and working all hours for the Church, they’ll have little time to read or re-evaluate what they were once taught. If they read any non-fiction at all, it will be LDS books, LDS magazines, or LDS scriptures, or their lesson manuals. The fear, NOT to look at ‘anti Mormon’ sites or books, has been successfully engrained, but is starting to crumble.

Naturally, when members of a Mormon family see one of their own ‘apostatize’ from the faith, those suspected elements (sin, laziness, rebellion and pride) are still attached to that person. This causes accusation, confusion and loss of respect. Indeed, the possibility of the defaulting or deserting apostates ‘disease’ affecting others can be so frightening that wives will divorce husbands and husbands – their wives; prevention from seeing children and general isolation. And all this, from a church which brags about the IMPORTANCE of families?

“It will tell you that the man (husband or father) is the head of the home and should be respected in that position, yet it has been a sad reflection that after I was excommunicated I was no longer permitted to take part in any baptismal services for any one of my 20 grandchildren. I would not claim to be a superlative grandparent, but I have attended virtually all their baptisms since excommunication and watched others in my family read verses, give little talks and offer advice to the newly baptised child, but I had to remain silent. I could not offer a prayer, read a verse, extend appreciation, give direction or express profound gratitude from the stand. This is a “normal” exclusion for an excommunicated person within Mormonism. Such a person is not allowed to be thus involved. I knew this mentally as a member years before, but I had never been “emotionally” subjected to it previously, so I did not see the cruelty in it – especially for someone like me who did NOT want to come back, but still loved his family and wanted to be part of all they were doing.

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I have since thought how odd it is that once you are excommunicated, it is as if all respect or reverence for your capacity and roll as father or grandfather is denied – as if you did not have any further usefulness or any further value. As if you did not exist. How very kind and Christ-like all this exclusion is! You would have thought that despite not being able to use the priesthood, I might have been permitted to take part in other simple ways, in order to support, encourage and inspire my grandchildren’s belief in fatherhood. In excommunication, you lose the Priesthood, but that never bothered me. I never really understood this invisible authority I was repeatedly told I must magnify anyway? Teachers and leaders would say: “use you priesthood to love your wife,” or “use your Priesthood to be gentle”… to this day it seems so ridiculous. Surely we love and are kind to others through our own heart and the natural disposition we’ve developed during our life time – not through some intangible ‘authority.’ The very concept of ‘Priesthood’ is merely another layer of control and domination… a sad pathetic need of satisfying religious males.” [10]

It took 6 years for Lyman to realise Joseph Smith was not the man he thought he was (since his baptism in 1831) On May 29th 1837 he and Orson Pratt brought the following charges against Smith:

  • Lying
  • Misrepresentation
  • Extortion
  • Speaking disrespectfully about members

Investing and losing $6,000 in a bank, confidently asserted to be “instituted by the will and revelations of God” was a reality wake-up call for Lyman. He understandably became bitter when that money was lost and blamed it on the Prophet. After filing charges against him, and as a result of his behaviour towards the Church, Lyman was first disfellowshipped, then later excommunicated on April 13, 1838. He continued to remain friendly with members of the Church and regretted that he no longer believed or was part of the organization.” [11]

Many members brought accusations against Smith, but he wielded unprecedented power amongst the Councils of the Church and would bring his own ‘character assassination’ against his accusers…. that is, until William Law decided to print Smith’s iniquities from the housetop! Then Smith went absolutely bonkers and persuaded the Council to destroy Laws printing shop. Joseph Smith was a man who could not tolerate being opposed, contradicted or defied.

So, it seems Lyman had the spirit of apostasy – but how could this be? Did not the Brethren prophecy he would be:

(1) Protected from Satan

(2) Live to see the gathering accomplished

(3) Be like Enoch (power over death) and

(4) Live to see the Saviour’s second coming (as were many others!)

Lyman E. Johnson: “no power of the enemy shall prevent him from going forth and doing the work of the Lord and that he shall live until the gathering is accomplished… and he shall be like unto Enoch; Satan shall tremble before him and he shall see the Savior come and stand upon the earth with power and great glory.” D.H.C., Vol. II, pp. 188-191. . . . But, three years later, he apostatized and “was cut off (excommunicated) from the church” (D.H.C., Vol. III, p. 20). Furthermore, the “gathering” to Missouri (D.&C. 84:1-5), still has not taken place, and he was not like Enoch who never died (Gen. 5:24), because Johnson died in 1856” [12]

If the priesthood works and was true, why did these key predictions upon Lyman fail?

If he was to be PROTECTED from Satan – why did he leave the Church? Why was there not the completed gathering, or Christ returning, in his life time? In its February Ensign article, the Church does not say what failed Lyman? They just accuse him of greedy financial speculation and criticising the prophet. All apologetics tarnish ‘apostates’ with character assignation, whilst the real villain (Smith) is always and every time, exonerated – no matter WHAT he does. Like Oaks today… it would seems Smith had too much vanity and arrogance to apologize about anything! But interestingly, some of these ‘nasty apostates’ like Lyman Johnson, actually confess quite humbly to their own accusations, greed and grumbles.

A Church which prays for punishment and curses upon others

Further to the idea and teaching that the WICKED were to be ‘punished’ or ‘cannot prosper,’ we find a whole array of blood thirsty curses and prophetic judgements levelled against the world in general, as well as for those who murdered the prophet and Hyrum. The Doctrine and Covenants is particularly nasty in this regard: “The whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin” D&C 84:49. The world does NOT lie in sin. Yes, it has some nasty and unsavoury characters in it, but the general mass of people are pretty much like you and me – reasonably decent people who are busy caring for their families. What is also noticeable in The Doctrine and Covenants is that Smith keeps ‘using’ God to pretend reasons for his failures – his failures with prophecy regarding the redemption of Zion or gathering places, or safety, or prosperity – you name it. It was ‘their’ fault God did not prosper them, protect them or help them. Too little faith; too much sin; not enough humility; not enough effort; too much contention. The truth is, Smith made it up as he went along and dragged naïve souls through unnecessary suffering – and for the most part, they believed him…. we all once believed him.

Temple

It really is quite blasphemous, that a Church which boasts such allegiance to Christ and is called by His name should have a mandatory ‘CURSE’ set-up (by the prophet Brigham Young) in their temples for 85 years (1845 till 1930) which was repeated at every session:

“You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Yet Jesus said: “. . . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

“Holiness to the Lord” is engraved over the door of each temple, yet inside they ignore the words of their God and replace them with prejudice, hatred and blood oaths.

Of the fate of the persecutors who murdered the prophet, Jim Whitefield said:

“Unfortunately for Smith, from all of the evidence available, it appears the Lord never actually did anything at all about any of these people. Had the Lord really been speaking, we would expect to see at least some results of people subsequently being ‘dealt’ with. Some authors have tried to find such evidence concerning those responsible for the death of Joseph Smith. A few decades ago, a book was published by N. B. Lundwall under the title of “The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith” which I read and blindly accepted as a member. It contained some gory detail but turned out to be full of nonsense and the claimed ‘evidence’ just speculative. The book has just been republished (May 2011) with Lundwall as ‘editor’ and a foreword by John A. Widtsoe.

Obviously, the concept of the Lord’s retribution is still popular. However, no matter what is claimed or argued, such a thing as the Lord ever ‘dealing’ with people ‘in his own due time’ has never demonstrably happened. There is no documented or substantiated record of any such retribution by the Lord regarding anyone that Smith ever claimed the Lord would deal with in his own due time.” [13]

I too read that book and noticed how the author delighted in each suggested punishment.

IMG_0057

Speaking also on this very subject, Alex Beam, on page 264 of his book, ‘American Crucifixion’ explained:

“But in the main, the “respectable set of men” who murdered Joseph and Hyrum thrived in the middle of the nineteenth century.” Mark Aldrich, Jacob Davis, William Grover, Chauncey Higbee, Robert F. Smith, William Law, Thomas Sharp and Orville Browning, went on to live long and productive lives. For instance: Higbee – a man portrayed by Mormon history as a nasty piece of work – “lived a long life in Pittsfield Illinois. He worked as a judge, banker, and a State Senator. He had a high school named after him in 1908.”

William Law has been vilified by ‘official’ LDS history, as another nasty piece of work – he sticks in the gut of all indoctrinated members (at least those who have read anything) What was my surprise on leaving the Church, but to discover he was a far better man than Smith; a far better principled person – as was his wife also….

William Law and his family moved to northern Illinois, and then to Shullsburg, Wisconsin, where he practised medicine until his death in 1892 at age eighty-three. His wife Jane, and his brother, Wilson, who farmed in the area, died in 1883 and 1877, respectively. Five years before his death, the elderly, white-haired doctor spoke at length about Joseph Smith and the Saints with German journalist Wilhelm Wyl. “The greatest mistake life was my having anything to do with Mormonism,” Law told his visitor. “I feel it to be a very deep disgrace and never speak of it when I can avoid it.” Jane had long ago set fire to their only copy of the Book of Mormon, and the family had abandoned the faith. “It never was a Church of Christ, but a most wicked blasphemous humbug, gotten up for the purpose of making money,” Law said. “I have no doubt thousands of honest, virtuous people joined the Church not knowing anything of the wicked workings of the leaders, and thousands (probably in ignorance) still cling to the delusion.” [14]

John_F._Boynton[1]

John Boynton: Like Lyman Johnson, he was one of two apostles able to shed Mormonism. He became a legitimate celebrity of the 19th century, with inventions, 4,000 lectures and fame as a naturalist doctor. His ultimately unsuccessful marriage to a much younger woman in 1865 was illustrated in Harper’s Weekly. He died in 1879 in Syracuse, N.Y.[15] (Bold emphasis mine)

Lyman Johnson lived another 18 years and became a successful pioneer lawyer in Iowa and was one of the town fathers of Keokuk, Iowa.[16]

Have you noticed how ‘Graceless’ Smith’s God is?

If you want to find rhetorical descriptions of the many ‘merciful’ ‘kind’ and ‘gracious’ attributes of the Godhead in scripture, then there are thousands of them – including The Doctrine and Covenants, but, if you want to find the LEAST demonstrable example of such qualities in scripture, then dump that last Canon. You may not have noticed, but Smith’s God is ruthless, petulant, petty, unfriendly, impatient, changeable, silly, ungrateful, and plain egotistical…. or was this God just an invention – an anthropomorphic mirror of Smith?

Well anyway… let me continue. You remember those moments in your life when you failed or hurt someone? Perhaps you did not intend to, perhaps you were just tired or were caught on a bad day? The point is, you felt terrible and expected some form of retaliation, or repercussion. Then the person you let down so badly communicated with you… with love! They totally disarmed and relieved your anxious mind with kindness and forgiveness. How did you feel? (if normal, you would have felt gratitude, relief, warmth and increased friendliness toward that person – even a greater love or devotion)

People who demonstrate such traits of meekness, we call Gracious. Graciousness is being courteous, kind, and pleasant, especially towards someone of lower social status. In the religious sense, Grace is unearned. It is a love given when technically, you don’t deserve it, or you have not paid the price for it. It is Gift. In the traditional Christian sense then, God is ‘meant’ to be full of Gracetotally rammed full of it. And his servants are meant to reflect His character and follow his example.

Question: what do we find in the God of Smith – the one revealed and manifest through the pages of The Doctrine and Covenants?

Answer: A God that does not give an inch. A God so destitute of love, He is Grace-less. Almost on every page, this god (yes, he’s not worthy of a big ‘G’) is scalding, moaning, deserting and treating his little children as if they were made of solid steel – where no shred of compromise, weakness or fatigue is allowed; where forgiveness, graciousness and acceptance, is alien to him.

If one of your infant children came home from school with their first painting on a scrap of paper, would you accept it with appreciation and love, or would you say: “I’m not prepared to accept this – it is not good enough?” Well, that is Smith’s god. He rarely ever ‘accepts’ the feeble yet sincere efforts of his Church. For him, the Church is just not good enough. A reward from his god is ALWAYS contingent on absolute obedience. Grace does not enter the picture. But if there is a God, he must (by Christian definition) be filled with Graciousness.  He is NOT. I am astonished at the stupidity, perversity and childishness of Smith’s god. How those Saints ever stuck with Smith is actually no real credit to him, but to their inherent goodness, tenacity and courage – Smith did not invent that, he just harnessed it and abused it.

The legacy I’m afraid has continued. A graceless excuse for a Church has arisen…

“We are then set up for a clerical system that says: ‘We are the God-appointed and singular dispensers of grace. Get on your knees and you may get some from us.’ The sins of the institutional Church are clearly encouraged by a theology of grace-scarcity, an ideology that separates nature from grace. In these circumstances religion plays dangerously with temptations to exaggerate its self-importance: it is no longer servant but master and it easily succumbs to an inflated ego about the exclusivity of its place in the world. What follows is a praise crisis as well, for when grace is scarce, so too are joy and praise.” [17]

Notes:

[1]http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi- bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=tsmith&id=I166

[2]A House Divided: The John Johnson Family’ Ensign Magazine February 1979 https://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/02/a-house-divided-the-john-johnson-family?lang=eng

[3] (Kirtland Council Minute Book, pp. 184–86)

[4] In the first example, the Mormon 2008 Priesthood Manual, Chapter 27, makes the following statement about the Kirtland Bank failure of 1837:

“As that year wore on, a spirit of apostasy grew among some of the saints at Kirtland. Some members became proud, greedy, and disobedient to the commandments. Some blamed Church leaders for economic problems caused by the failure of a Kirtland financial institution established by Church members. This failure occurred in 1837, the same year that a banking panic swept across the United States, compounding the saints’ economic problems. As many as two or three hundred members fell away from the Church in Kirtland, sometimes joining with those who opposed the Church to torment and even physically threaten the saints. Some apostates openly claimed that the prophet was fallen and tried to have other men put in his place.”

Reading the above text, if accepting it as the truth, consider what loyal and unsuspecting Mormons today will think must have happened. Some Church members set up a bank – which failed, partly due to the economic situation encompassing the whole country. Some greedy members blamed the Church leaders for their subsequent economic problems, although Smith could have done nothing about it. Some even called him fallen, as he did not foresee the problems they consequently faced. A spirit of apostasy led some members to inappropriately oppose or even try to replace Smith.

This is nowhere close to the truth which is deliberately excluded from the 2008 manual. The following facts clearly identify outright lies as well as lies by omission in the above account. Deceiving members in this way is unforgivable.

It was Joseph Smith himself, along with Sidney Rigdon, Smith’s First Counsellor, who set up the bank, originally to be called The Kirtland Safety Society Bank. Smith sent Apostle Orson Hyde to the Ohio legislature to obtain a bank charter and at the same time he sent Oliver Cowdery to Philadelphia to obtain the plates to print money. Cowdery duly returned with the plates but Hyde failed to obtain a charter. Undeterred, Smith opened an illegal bank anyway, on 2 January 1837, as a joint stock company to serve as a quasi-bank. He added words to banknotes so the title now read The Kirtland Safety Society Anti Banking Co. The worthless banknotes were as illegal as the bank itself.

Members were encouraged to deposit all their money and property in exchange for notes, with Rigdon as Chairman and President, Warren Parrish as signatory, secretary and teller, and Joseph Smith as the cashier. There was never a chance that the bank could succeed, as the capitalisation far exceeded the resources available from the backers. However, that was nothing compared to what Smith and his cohorts did themselves which completely destroyed it.

Joseph Smith had launched a huge (and illegal) company, capitalised at $4 million when the capitalisation of all the Ohio banks combined was only just over $9 million. They issued notes with no restriction, so they bore no relation to the capital and assets. The project was thus knowingly doomed from the start. Within weeks, writs were issued against Smith and Rigdon for issuing unauthorised worthless bank paper. Most assets were in property rather than the silver which depositors had assumed and after the earlier boom, property prices were falling fast. Within a month, Smith and Rigdon had resigned from the bank, knowing full well that it would fail completely.

On 23 May 1837, Apostle Parley P. Pratt angrily wrote to Joseph Smith complaining that Smith had been wrong to turn over to the bank Smith’s personal notes for his debts to Pratt, thus effectively illegally evading them. Pratt complained Smith was “taking advantage of your brother by undue religious influence”. Smith used the illegal bank for his own purposes, reneged on personal debts, absolved himself from the bank and then left it to inevitably go under. By July it had done just that.

Thirteen suits were brought against him [Smith] between 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totalling $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits only six were settled out of court – about $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default. (Brodie 1963: Ch. XIV).

These were debts due to creditors outside the Church. There were many more due to Church members who were never paid. Smith and Rigdon got out early but Smith did not entirely get away with what he had done. It was not greedy members and apostates who were angry at Smith; it was actually half of his Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders who (correctly) accused Smith of improprieties. Apostle Heber C. Kimball stated that the bank’s failure was devastating and afterwards “there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” (J. Tanner 1988: Ch 7. Insight on Hoffman). Members were clearly aware of what Smith had done. On 24 October 1837, an appeals court confirmed the conviction and $1,000 fine each, of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, for operating an illegal bank. Many trusting Church members lost absolutely everything they had through Smith’s bank when he asked them to invest in it. Members left the Church in droves when they realised Smith had conned them. Smith ran away in the night with his brother Hyrum, not from mobs, but from faithful Mormons who were up in arms that he had illegally taken them for all their money. Also not mentioned in the manual is the fact that Smith set up the bank by revelation which “like Aaron’s rod would swallow up all other banks.” 39 As with most Church history, the facts are very different from the fiction taught to Mormons today. Rationalise these facts with item 39 (on p.41), Honesty and Integrity. There is no honesty or integrity; none, absolutely none.

A reading of Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History, Chapter XIV, or of Tanner’s Joseph Smith’s Kirtland Bank Failure (at http://www.utlm.org), will provide a comprehensive, historically accurate picture of what really transpired regarding Smith’s illegal Kirtland Bank scam. Comparing that knowledge with the statement made in the 2008 Priesthood Manual provides conclusive proof that leaders continue to knowingly lie concerning Church history. It is an ill-conceived notion that deliberately lying to members is an acceptable form of behaviour for men claiming to represent God. God would disown such men.  The Mormon Delusion’ Vol. 3:41-44

[5] Exiles in a Land of Liberty – Mormons in America 1830 –1846 by Kenneth H Winn. Page 108 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ESwIEefhOWwC&pg=PA108&lpg=PA108&dq=was+lyman+johnson+part+of+zions+camp&source=bl&ots=y4Xf6YksXi&sig=as_aIVeuxOyf2C2pMm4Mu-jyde0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBWoVChMIntXikdG6xwIVaQjbCh3bFwEo#v=onepage&q=was%20lyman%20johnson%20part%20of%20zions%20camp&f=false

[6]According to Reed peck, a member of the army. The original of the Reed Peck manuscripts, dated Quincy, Illinois, September 18, 1839 and published by L. B. Cake in 1899, is now in my possession. It was furnished me by Peck’s granddaughters Mabel Peck Myer and Hazel Peck Cass, of Bainbridge, New York.

[7] Letter from Joseph Smith to the High Council of Zion, dated August 16, 1834 History of the Church, Vol. 11, p. 145

[8] The D&C Commentary’ page 470 (Jour. of Dis., Vol. XIX., p. 41).

[9] John O’Donohue ‘Eternal echoes’ – exploring our hunger to belong.

[10] Robert Bridgstock ‘The Youngest Bishop in England’

[11] http://www.mormonwiki.com/Lyman_E._Johnson

[12] (Deseret News Church Almanac, 1989-1990, p. 49) (Bold emphasis mine)  http://thetruthaboutmormonism-creeksalmon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/original-lds-so-called-12-apostles.html

[13] (Page 489 ‘The Mormon Delusion’ Vol. 5 Doctrine and Covenants – Deception and Concoctions)

[14] Alex Beam ‘American Crucifixion’ page 264

[15]http://www.standard.net/Staff-Columns/2014/05/14/Lost-Apostles-an-interesting-history-of-Mormonism-s-originals-who-left-the-quorum

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_E._Johnson

[17]Natural Grace’ by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

Article 1. Three Degrees of Glory and Outer Darkness…

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One of the things LDS Church members are really pleased about in regard to the celebrated ‘3 degrees of Glory’ revelation, found in Section 76 of The Doctrine and Covenants, is that previously, the Christian world taught only of one heaven and one hell, but here we are told that there is a place for EVERYONE and very few will go to Outer Darkness, or Hell. In addition – and far more glorious – is the grand and magnificent concept it brings of Eternal Progression. We thought that heaven was a sort of vague, ethereal retirement plan, where we floated around in sublime bliss to the feint sound of harps and Songs of Praise. But Joseph comes along and encapsulates an idea so high – so lofty, as to blow our minds beyond the gravitational drag of the earth, into the orbit of another world. When I first learnt of this, it was mind-blowing – just amazing. And for very many members, it still is. In fact, they are sold on it. C S Lewis once confessed that if the Christian story of how God, sending his Son into the world to save it and redeem it, was not true, then it ought to be. It’s the same for the LDS about the message of Section 76; there is a great void in meaning without it.

These are the basic qualifying entrance factors for each of the 3 Kingdoms of glory:

The Celestial Kingdom Candidate: (D&C 76: 51-70)

  • Receives the testimony of Jesus and believe in him
  • Are baptised by immersion
  • Keep his commandments
  • Washed and cleansed from their sins
  • Overcome by faith
  • Receive the Holy Spirit by authority of the priesthood
  • Sealed by the holy spirit of promise
  • Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Children who have died and those who have received the Gospel in the spirit world, but did not get the chance on earth. (D&C 137: 1-10)

The Terrestrial Kingdom Candidate: (D&C 76: 71-80)

    • Have died in ignorance –without the law
    • Accepted the Gospel in the spirit world (spirit prison)
    • Generally good people who were too blind to see the truth on earth
    • Those NOT valiant in the testimony of Jesus

The Telestial Kingdom Candidate: (D&C 76: 81-109

  • Those who deny not the Holy Spirit
  • Do not accept the Gospel nor the witness of Christ
  • Belong to other faiths, but will not join the Mormon Church
  • Liars
  • Sorcerers (somebody who is believed or claims to have magical powers)
  • Adulterers
  • Woremongers (a pimp who procures whores)

We may not know, but it was not very well received by many Church members at the time, due to their Protestant backgrounds. What may be even less well known is the fact that another ‘Visionary,’ by the name of Emanuel Swedenborg, already had the same general idea as Smith. What’s more, he had already published his version in a book, available to Joseph when he was a teenager, entitled: ‘Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders’ in which he also championed the idea of 3 heavens and Degrees of glory. He uses Celestial and Terrestrial to describe them, as well as the comparisons of Sun, Moon and Stars.

Emanuel Swedenborg

It is quite possible Smith may have plagiarised and copied Swedenborg’s ideas? As just mentioned, Section 76 caused a wave of agitation and disagreement among the saints. Some were excommunicated – unable to accept these new ideas. Michael Quinn explained that separate degrees in heaven, came from the occult. Emanuel Swedenborg was a teacher of the occult and was thought to be the ‘Father of Spiritualism.’ Like Smith, this man also had a Vision where God and Christ appeared and gave him instructions to enlighten the world – a mission to which he appears to have been faithful…. and guess what, like Smith, Swedenborg believed and taught that a marriage with ‘sexual love’ can continue in heaven – if first performed on earth. He said: “THE LOVE OF THE SEX ESPECIALLY REMAINS; AND WITH THOSE WHO GO TO HEAVEN, WHICH IS THE CASE WITH ALL WHO BECOME SPIRITUAL HERE ON EARTH, CONJUGIAL LOVE REMAINS.” Swedenborg uses much the same argument to get round Christ’s injunction: “they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven,” as does the Church.

He also taught the following:

  1. Three levels of heaven
  2. Three heavens in the Celestial Kingdom
  3. Priesthood robes are worn in heavenly marriage ceremonies
  4. You must be married to inherit the highest heaven
  5. The world of spirits is a place of preparation for either heaven or perdition
  6. There are angles who communicate between heavens
  7. The 3 kingdoms are like sun, moon and stars
  8. The church that Christ established has passed from the Earth[2]

In Michael Quinn’s book Early Mormonism and the Magic World View’ he tells us that Swedenborg’s book “Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders” was in Smith’s hometown library since 1817 and unbelievably, Joseph Smith’s was familiar with Swedenborg’s writings. Smith told a convert by the name of Edward Hunter that “Emanuel Swedenborg had a view of the world to come, but for daily food he perished.”[3] So Smith was well aware of his writings long before he made up Section 76.

Losing my wife forever?….

I once had every good reason to want to trust the marvellous 76th Section. I had a lovely marriage and a great family life. I was told many times by members who visited our home, that our family was idyllic. I loved the plan of how worthy Saints literally progress in a marital state till they become Gods. The promise was that if individuals keep all the designated rules and laws of the Church, they will be saved into the highest paradise with all their families – so long as each one of them remains worthy. It seemed we were on the perfect course to the Celestial world… so why did I go on doubting?

Norma 1

Norma

Decades pass. In April 2006 I attended a disciplinary council and was excommunicated. It is impossible for those who have never been through a Church court, to understand the sense of devastation and loneliness that befalls you when they announce their verdict. As a one-time stake clerk, I had attended such proceedings and can tell you that I witnessed many members excommunicated for adultery, but, back then – as an observer (including the entire High Council) – we could not appreciate what it would feel like unless we were the ones on trial. At the moment of my excommunication, I was suddenly no longer sealed to my wife who had died a year earlier in full faith and worthiness. We sometimes speculate how we might feel if something we dread happens to us, or to those we love; well, here I was – eternally stranded and separated from my wife (Indeed, from all my children and my twin brother as well – all strong members) How did I feel? In some ways this was a test… had I been kidding myself? Did I really still KNOW the Church was true, but in denial? (As many members like to believe we are) or, was my conviction – that it was all false, real? So, I put that big question straight to my brain and to my soul as the seconds ticked by – you know what? NOTHING troubled me! All fear was gone. I knew then, like never before, that over 40 years of indoctrination had collapsed like the Twin Towers. Yes, I was emotionally choked-up with the dust and tears, but the huge edifice no longer filled my sky-line. It was gone.

As I processed that undeniable answer, I realised the strength of my unbelief in the Church. To quote a well known comedian: “I wasn’t bothered!” At last, their chief weapon of control – the FEAR of losing my loved ones – of supposedly ‘betraying them’ by my desertion of the faith, had ascended into a significant and surprising sense of unruffled independence and calm! I still believed in an afterlife and felt some day I’d see or be with Norma again, but what is important here, is not whether the soul goes on, but the concrete fact that Mormonism’s claim of ‘Forever Families’ (with all their mandatory conditions) was completely false and irrelevant and no longer held power over me.

I had been endowed, received both priesthoods, sealed in the temple, been a branch president and bishop and had a very strong testimony of the restoration. During all this time and with decades of sometimes tearful struggles, with doubts and inner conflict over Church teaching as I fasted, prayed, read my scriptures, was obedient and carried on (temple worthy), yet I slowly came to realize, the Church was false.

Their reasons for my excommunication were confined to a moral lapse (I had fallen in-love with a married woman, with whom I had infrequent contact by mobile phone and in the workplace. There was no adultery or proper affair… I had no physical contact, except for once touching her hand) But perhaps members and leaders alike could say: “Thus he has lost the spirit.” The truth is – I was on fire with the spirit – just not their proscribed spirit. I was still crying every day at the grief of losing my wife. I was crying every day from the icy steel of loneliness. Every time I cried I would pray; kneeling by my bed; sitting on the stairs; on my lounge chair, or in some quiet place in my car…. I had every reason to have made an insurance claim for flooding! In the night time I was saturated in thoughts of God. I have woken from deep sleep on a number of occasions, with praises instantly pouring out of my mouth – as if someone had just turned on a tap without my thought or control. The scriptures taught me (like Nephi and Enos) to go out and find God – well, I had done that; done it regularly for many years; out often into dark woods for long deep prayers. Over a life time I came to sense and feel things about the God they told me to find – trouble was, this increasing anthropomorphic God took issue with the Mormon God and gradually cut me loose and morphed into MY GOD. The greatest shock was the Stake Presidents announcement a second before saying I was excommunicated: “God will not be mocked!” Suddenly, I was confronted by an idiot, telling me I was mocking My God?  In those days I had entered the agony and isolation of Self – into the paradox of joy and silence. This experience had nothing to do with ones state of so-called ‘worthiness,’ rules, or morality. And in the silence, my own irreducible Selfhood arose to celebrate oneness with the Universe. It felt like my essence or spirit stood alone without the attachment of the body and all its cravings, distractions, vanities and fears – it existed, it shined, it needed nothing; no worthiness, no repentance, no celebrated achievements or trappings of success. No programme of regeneration, no conformity to others, no redemption from the habit of sin. Nothing had fallen and nothing was needed to make it enough – to make it acceptable. It stood alone, yet irretrievably connected and wired-in to a universal energy. It was utterly pure and everlastingly still.

Over all the past years, doubts – like little shafts of light in a darkened room, were ever so slowly arising and then declining. A restless sea that gathered waves which seemed to keep dissipating. It has taken me so long to have the self confidence to fully trust my own instincts. These doubts and internal struggles go way back. ‘Doubt your doubts’? I’ve done it and got the T shirt. I was even released as bishop decades ago because of doubts (my request). The court was a red herring, but through it I leant how stupid and ill informed leadership can be. Any fool could have gone back. The Church owned me for too long – honesty and integrity kept me out.

My reasons for finally refusing to obey and for refusing to go back to Church, were, and still are, intellectual. To top it all, I published a book attacking the Church. So, essentially – according Smith’s invented scriptures, I am destined for an eternal hell… I mean forever.

The penny dropped…

I remember a Church of England lady who came to a fireside meeting at my house many years before this, where we proceeded to paint the picture of eternal marriage and that consequently, all those not sealed in OUR temple could not remain together beyond the grave, but she – thinking of her deceased husband, stared at me steadily and convincingly stated: “But love goes on forever and we will always be one” At that moment, I suddenly saw the stupidity of our claims… of course love goes on. I remained quiet, but have never forgotten her words.

The God who is not very good at Saving…

I’m grateful to Jim Whitefield, who also listed God’s appalling wastage of human souls, in his outstanding volumes ‘The Mormon Delusion.’ LDS leaders presently claim that their Church membership consists of “15 million strong.” However, as statistics go, it is far more accurate to assume that one third (5 million) is the real ‘active,’ or ‘strong’ members, who attend church – quite possibly lower. It is a well known fact that as much as ½ to ¾ of new converts, will drop away from the faith and yet these are still counted statistically to bolster figures (as well as children from 8 up) Of these 5 million – probably only a quarter, (1,250,000) are ‘temple worthy’ (fully obedient) and therefore, potential heirs of the highest Celestial Kingdom. So, 15 million ‘strong’ is a lie anyway. But let’s be very generous… let’s say that 5 million members (currently alive) will eventually get to the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven. Presently, there are just over 7 Billion people living on this planet. If you do a percentage calculation of how successful God has been in saving these souls, then we can see that he has failed miserably. Only 0.07% of the ‘present’ world population will have a hope in hell (excuse the pun) of being saved into the Celestial Kingdom – where we are told, God wants them to be. It is also part of the LDS dogma, that precisely 1/3 of all the spirits, which God had created and intended to become mortal souls on earth, rebelled in heaven before the world began and are destined to be consigned (with those like me, who have rejected the Church) to a hell which will never end. Think about it… multiple BILLIONS of souls, consigned to suffer hell for eternity, because they did not agree with the programme. Why is the Mormon God so hopeless at saving? Why do His plans and operations incur so much collateral damage – so much suffering? We are told that God’s great plan is to exalt ‘Families,’ yet it would appear that this is going to be a monumental disaster.

As Andrew Ainsworth pointed out quite rightly – in terms of the LDS teaching on ‘Families Are Forever’ – God’s Default Rule is SEPARATION. Listen to how he puts it:

“By buying into LDS teachings about God’s default rule of eternal separation, and the need for LDS ordinances to become sealed together forever, spouses and family members condition their marital and familial unity on everyone staying LDS. So, when the inevitable happens–when a parent, spouse, child, or sibling “loses his/her testimony” and leaves the church–the LDS members of the marriage or family believe the “apostate” will eternally not be a part of their family, and that creates severe anxiety and grief. LDS family members can then react to that severe anxiety and grief by directing anger and rebuke at the “apostate”. Which of course does not strengthen marriages and families; it destroys them.

Isn’t it ironic that the very thing that LDS leaders teach will strengthen your marriage and family and seal you all together forever–i.e., your unanimous belief in LDS doctrines and receiving LDS ordinances–is the very thing that ends up destroying LDS marriages and families when a spouse or family member leaves the church?”

Isn’t it a far firmer foundation to teach and believe that your marital and family togetherness is conditioned upon one thing only: your love for each other? Mormons say they’ll be together forever IF or AS LONG AS everyone in the marriage and family stays LDS.” (Bold emphasis mine)

Kerri Bodie writes: “The LDS Church pretends to sell you a connection that already belongs to you”….

“My first clue came when I learned about Quantum Entanglement Theory. Now I don’t claim to understand the mathematics of quantum physics, but the concept of Quantum Entanglement Theory can be understood by anyone, it is explained as this: Two or more particles born from the same source, from the same event, are now entangled – even if they are separated by a great distance – meaning that there is a communication that occurs instantly between the particles. Whatever you do to one particle, a measurable reaction occurs in the second particle instantaneously. The communication is therefore many times faster than the speed of light, which was thought to violate “special relativity”, but it was happening none the less. It is described as a “quantum non-local connection”. Einstein didn’t like this, he called it “spooky action at a distance.”

Quantum physicists have not fully explained this phenomenon, but they have observed that it does indeed happen. I discovered that String Theory and M Theory support this phenomenon as well. These theories have brought us the understanding that “matter” is merely energy condensed to a very low vibration, meaning that at our most basic level, everything and everyone is just energy, we are all connected, as energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

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Now tie into this Carl Sagan’s famous observation that “we are star stuff” – in which he meant that all the elements we are made up of, were once inside a star before it exploded and gave birth to what would become our solar system. Therefore, it is assumed that, on some level, every particle we see is entangled to some degree.

And if you want to take it a step further, your children are born from one egg, the result of the union of egg and sperm from the mother and father. All of our particles then, are theoretically, if not literally, entangled. We are all connected, ultimately part of one great whole.

Many religions, including the LDS religion, teach that there is a measure of divinity within every being. This connects with the thought that what is in the “one” is in the “whole”, or what you see in the microcosm, is reflected in the macrocosm . . . . Once I understood these concepts, I felt some puzzle pieces fitting together in my mind. The way I see it now is: Families ARE Together Forever, not Families CAN Be Together Forever, as the LDS church teaches.

Families Can Be Together Forever is actually a veiled threat if you really consider what is being said here. The LDS doctrine states that you will only be with your family forever if you do these special “rituals” in the temple and even then, those “connections” will only continue if you live righteously.

Living righteously includes going to the temple, preferably on a regular basis. To get a temple recommend, among other things, you must be a full tithe payer – that is, 10% of your increase, gross or net depending on your perspective. So in essence, what that nice little phrase “Families Can Be Together Forever” is telling us, is they will take your family, that belongs to you forever already (this is important to remember, your family is already connected to you forever) and we will sell it back to you for 10% of your increase.

What unknowing investigators do not realize is that their family was never up for sale in the first place. The LDS church pretends to be able to sell you a connection that already belongs to you. The LDS church takes the people that mean the most to you in your life, then ultimately uses your love for them against you. Essentially they are saying:

“Do you want to be with your family forever?”

“Yes, yes, of course I do.”

“Then come join our church, pay us tithing, and we will teach you a ritual that will keep your family together forever. Do not violate any rules connected with this, or you will lose your family forever.”

As a young LDS member, I can tell you that there is nothing more terrifying than thinking you may be separated from your family forever. And once you grow up, marry your best friend and have children of your own, you find an even more desperate fear of falling short in the sight of the Lord and losing your beloved husband and/or children forever. Your love for your family becomes a gun to your head.

This terrifying thought is a very effective tool for obedience and tithe paying. And heaven forbid you screw up in anyway, the guilt and the anguish experienced in the mind of a child or a parent, I would say, can be seen as nothing less than emotional abuse since the whole manipulative concept is based on a lie.”[4]

The majority of Families will be segregated and damned for ever…

What the Church continues to perpetuate however, is the message that failing to reach the highest Celestial Kingdom and falling back to the Terrestrial and Telestial kingdom, is a form of ‘hell.’ That’s because the level of anxiety, fear and agitation felt by the member, reflects their deep indoctrination of potentially losing the only destiny God wants for them. As Kerri has pointed out, this includes the terrifying and very real prospect of losing or being separated from loved one eternally. The contract down here, is that if you do not: (1) Become a member (2) Pay 10% on each pay packet (3) Keep the word of Wisdom – abstaining from spirits, tobacco, tea and coffee (4) Attend Church (5) Remain morally pure (6) Receive and keep all promises made in the temple (7) Obey and follow rules and laws of the Church (7) Pray (8) Read scriptures, etc., etc., then you will not be worthy to obtain the Celestial Kingdom in heaven. In this life, you can be very sure, that one or more of your family–for a variety of reasons–will not fulfil these requirements, so will be permanently separated and segregated from those of you who have. Those ‘less worthy’ will not be able to pop up to the Big Heaven to visit mum, or mum (if she has failed) to pop up and visit her children. Lovers will be separated – not because they have failed to love, nor failed to care for each other, but because one is unable to fully believe the same things as the other. Members tend to make the crass mistake (too long perpetuated by their leaders) that loved ones, who ‘fail’ to qualify are somehow ‘unworthy’ or have ‘morally’ lapsed. Nothing is further from the truth. They have simply stumbled on the history of LDS iniquity, and deceptions of such comprehensive magnitude, that they can no longer – with any shred of integrity, remain. In Smith’s silly plan, they will be shafted and isolated from each other.

Think of this comparison: Think of the Celestial Kingdom as a huge building, to which you will be assigned floors and apartments for the rest of eternity. A place you cannot leave. At the bottom (telestial) are the so-called ‘wicked’ people. They are not really wicked – it’s just that Smith liked to label pretty much the entire world as ‘wicked.’ He lacked the imagination and decency to fully appreciate the innate quality of individual souls, so he condemned the lot and promised scourges and tribulations, which, incidentally – have failed to happen. Anyway, these ‘wicked’ salt-of-the-earth people, have small rather shabby rooms by contrast to those higher up in the block… but at least they are not in hell! These rooms higher up on the Terrestrial floor are really quite large and rather splendid.

Next is the Celestial penthouse with breath-taking views and balconies. These rooms at the top are absolutely stunning – dripping with luxury, beauty and elegance. In fact, they are on a whole new scale of opulence and grandeur. The problem is, a couple who have been rewarded with the penthouse can NEVER invite up or entertain their 3 children and their families, who are assigned to the basement. They (the children) have not failed to love their parents, but only to choose a different faith or path, yet they want to see their parents to whom they are segregated for eternity. They will NEVER be able to see them in their astonishing home and environment. The parents can come down for short intervals only on very infrequent occasions. The same division could happen to a very close pair of lovers. One is at the top – one is at the bottom. No choice about it, except for the sheer courage of the lady, whose honesty and integrity on earth, took her away from the faith… so she is stuck forever further down. Their fate is to suffer the death of each other’s presence FOREVER.

Alas, Smith’s supposed revelation/vision on 3 degrees of glory is cruel, divisive, brutal and heartless. If, in the here-after, people are real personalities or spirits and really do rejoice to see each other again when they meet up after death (as Mormonism believes and promotes) then the forced separation and segregation on the final judgement day, when each soul is made (dragged screaming one assumes?) to their obligatory Kingdoms forever, is vicious and criminal. It’s a shocking plan. Think if you will, of those clips from 2nd World war films, where Nazi soldiers are forcibly separating families in the street – children from mothers, husbands from wives – never to see each other again, as they are escorted to their final destination.

Jewish-husband+wife-reunited-in-Haifa_1946[1]

This is the plan of exaltation. To repeat Andrew Ainsworth: God’s Default Rule is SEPARATION’    

Well, that was the ‘good news’ about the 3 Kingdoms of glory – now listen to the bad news…

If you – like me, are anxiously engaged in the good cause of spreading the truth of the Church being false (after first utterly rejecting it) and are consciously fighting against it, may be assured of a permanent resort called Hell, or Outer Darkness. (permanent – meaning, for ALL eternity… no holidays or tea/coffee breaks, parties, etc.)

I actually think it’s quite funny listening to FairMormon’s introduction to this holiday resort:

Outer Darkness “As we noted in the discussion of the nature of the spirit world, both the Latter-day Saints and the early Christians have taught that the “hell” associated with the spirit world will have an end. It should be noted here, however, that there will be an everlasting hell after the resurrection, and the promise of eternal punishment is very real for those who in this life and the next not only reject Christ and His Kingdom, but who consciously fight against it once they have received a witness of its truth. The Lord revealed to the Prophet that those who deny the Holy Ghost, and thus committing the unpardonable sin, will be given a kingdom of totally without glory called “outer darkness”[5]

Verses on Hell from The Doctrine and Covenants 76:31–38:

“Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born. For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity. Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it . . . These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.”

“ . . . . and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him. Wherefore he saves all except them . . . . (The Doctrine and Covenants 76: 43-44)

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This is also an observation from FairMormon to reinforce their doctrine, by quoting some ancient writings:

“Similarly, both the gnostic Christian Gospel of Philip and the Pastor of Hermas describe the denizens of “outer darkness” as those who have made a conscious and specific choice to rebel against God:

An Apostolic man in a vision saw some people shut up in a house of fire and bound with fiery chains, lying in flaming ointment . . . . And he said to them, “[Why are they not able] to be saved? [They answered], “They did not desire it. They received [this place as] punishment, what is called ‘the [outer] darkness,’ because he is [thrown] out (into it).

From the first mountain, which was black, they that believed are the following: apostates and blasphemers against the Lord, and betrayers of the servants of God. To these repentance is not open; but death lies before them, and on this account also are they black, for their race is a lawless one.

Origen taught that the wicked in outer darkness would be devoid of intelligence, and possessed of bodies stripped of all glory.

But the outer darkness, in my judgment, is to be understood not so much of some dark atmosphere without any light, as of those persons who, being plunged in the darkness of profound ignorance, have been placed beyond the reach of any light of the understanding . . . . The wicked also, who in this life have loved the darkness of error and the night of ignorance, may be clothed with dark and black bodies after the resurrection . . . .[6]  (Bold emphasis mine)

In defending Smiths doctrine, FairMormon seems to think that showing the bible and ancient writings, which mention degrees of glory, many mansions, etc., proves Smith’s ideas were substantiated by great minds of the past, but to me, it only serves to shows that Section 76 was not very original or radical at all.

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One of the most awful books I have ever read (from cover to cover) was ‘The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary.’ This book was reprinted under the instruction and direction of the 1st presidency and was much used some decades ago. Even I, as an active and committed member at the time, sensed a streak of pious arrogance throughout its pages. You get a flavour of it here as I quote from its pages. It is dealing with the Sons of Perdition from Section 76. As you can see, these are no super-spiritual, 2nd anointed individuals, but ordinary Saints, yet the negative and deplorable character traits of so-called ‘apostates,’ described here, bear absolutely no resemblance to the folk I know, who have painfully left the Church – including myself.

“Those who are finally lost are such as have had actual knowledge of the power of God; they have been made partakers thereof; they have not only heard of it or seen its manifestations in others, but they have received it themselves. Paul (Heb.6:4) uses the expression, “enlightened,” which is equivalent to “baptized,” and is so understood by early Christian authors, because Christian baptism is followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost, who gives light and leads into all truth. He adds, “and have tasted the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.” In other words, they have been regenerated by the gospel and received the blessings bestowed through the ordinances thereof; and then they have “suffered themselves to be overcome.” They have denied the truth and have defied the power of God. They have become rebels, like Lucifer. Their status is that of apostasy. The 35th verse should be read here. They have denied the Holy Spirit, after having received it; they have denied the Only Begotten Son, and by that denial, crucified Him, as it were. They have been the servants of Christ but are now enlisted in the service of Lucifer, as were those who crucified the Lord; they belong to the same class.”[7]

Smith’s God is nastier than members allow…

Most members (because they are kind and decent) will always tell a fellow member, or soul like mine, “No, you probably would not go to hell – you have to deny the Holy Ghost after having a very powerful testimony.” (not according to revealed scripture above) I said the same thing to sisters who would approach me as bishop – looking for consolation or advice about their non-member partner or inactive husband. Unfortunately, God is not as kind nor as nice as they are… neither was Smith. He even tells us that Fear is something his God counted on, to persuade people to conform. It is interesting that phrases like “eternal damnation” and ”endless torment,” were—according to Joseph Smith—used by God to deliberately scare us to death. In D&C 19: 6–7, God talks about the mistake we make about “time duration.” He said that prefixes like: “eternal,” “endless” or “everlasting” were names for God and therefore, such verses had nothing to do with how long punishment would last. They were really saying that endless torment was Gods torment (because “Endless” was His name). Joseph Smith both warned and made guarantees that entire families would be either damned or entire families would be exalted, in order to pressure women into marrying him. So Joseph presents a God who plays with our fears and twists words around, hoping to frighten the living daylights out of us! It seems that Joseph and his god are one and the same anthropomorphic person—manipulators of people.

Whatever a ‘nice’ General Authority, or decent member have said – trying to soften the blow of the fate awaiting so many thousands who have, and are currently, leaving the faith – makes no difference. You see, I’ve often told crying sisters that God will ‘sort everything out,’ as if the actual dogma of the Church (such as Section 76) is quite irrelevant. You see MY GOD would sort everything out. In fact, MY GOD would never have invented so much nonsense and suffering in the first place.

Smith invented the harsh dogma for those who he needed to control, who may have been tempted to think for themselves and walk away. The same is true of the pre 1990 temple endowment where each is threatened “TO BE IN SATANS POWER” if they don’t keep their covenants. It is an interesting commentary on Smith’s God – that He is prepared to dump Billions into a hell, which is apparently so bad, He will show no more than a glimpse to prophets, then shuts it up immediately!

Notes:

[1] The Delights of Wisdom Pertaining to Conjugial Love.http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11248/11248-h/11248-h.htm

[2] http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon025.htm also: http://exmormon.org/d6/drupal/Swedenborg-Joseph-Smith-Three-Degrees-of%20Heaven

[3] http://craigwmiller.tripod.com/interest.htm

[4] http://www.iamanexmormon.com/2011/03/families-are-together-forever-my-name-is-kerri-bodie-and-im-an-ex-mormon/

[5] http://en.fairmormon.org/Plan_of_salvation/Three_degrees_of_glory/Not_biblical

[6] http://en.fairmormon.org/Plan_of_salvation/Three_degrees_of_glory/Not_biblical

[7] (‘The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary’ 1968 Revised Edition, by Hyrum M Smith and Janne M Sjodahl).

The Badness of Goodness

Love Verses Lust

I have at home a devotional address, which President Kimball gave to the Young Adults, (18–26 year olds) at Manti, Utah, on July 10th 1974 entitled ‘Love verses Lust.’ It is available on the Internet as a free PDF (that awfully scary place where we may encounter distorted truth, so be careful!) http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/lovevslust.pdf If you are a member of the Church and have read or heard this talk when you were about that age, you will be forgiven for believing that every word was appropriate and all his remarks in keeping with a mouthpiece of God – a man trying to teach us true principles of moral integrity and purity of heart. For myself, I came upon it with utter amazement and astonishment after the wisdom and experience of a long and wonderful marriage.

If I had not known who had written the ‘The Miracle of Forgiveness,’ and had needed a few clues – this awful address would have indeed disclosed the personality and dysfunction of the man who wrote it.

The scene he sets forth is of a young single couple who had come into his office, because they had committed fornication a few times. He started very carefully to remind his audience about the importance of words. Indeed, he takes an inordinate amount of time and attention to emphasize how the “correct” use of words enables a communicator to convey a precise meaning, so that those whom we may be communicating with (in this case, his audience) will not misunderstand the message. He then embarks on a demoralising rant and an unjustified demolition of the character of these two single people. He infers that they too (the audience) would completely understand the “precise” meaning of the words Lust and Love.

Let me take you through his crude and blunt analysis of their character and his incredibly naive and superficial judgement of their feelings for each other. Firstly, this couple – from his description, were in love. He says they were nervous, embarrassed – even a little terrified.

Surprise, surprise… even at their age, these young Mormons would have known full well how strict the Church was and how leaders would sniff out every detail of their unchastity and forgive or punish accordingly. The possibility of their conduct becoming public to the congregation would be really worrying to them. Apparently they came (according to Kimball) with a “defensive” attitude. They loved each other and felt their sexual union was a reflection of that love.

Even before Spencer W. Kimball launches into his bullish attack on these two youngsters, he summarises to the BYU audience his definition of “Love and Lust” by equating each word respectively with “Life and Death.” That was his first fundamental mistake. Always, or at very least, far too frequently, Mormonism swings crudely between two extremes – black or white, good and evil. It rarely ever deals with, acknowledges or appreciates the greys areas where most of us live and struggle. Mormonism is blind and remains in denial of the Real world.

Just for a moment, we can forget about the word Love, because we all agree it is good and desirable, even though it has also been ill used and misunderstood. No, we will look at the word “Lust,” which Kimball defines as “evil” (death). What I found reprehensible about his nasty address was his unforgivable character assassination of this couple. He describes all their motives – all their feelings and all their sentiments to be cheap and selfish. They are to be completely characterised “BY LUST.” That, in itself, is an assault on what they were not. It is what I have said the Church always does to you – it makes you feel like you ARE your sins.

Apparently, they could do nothing right, nor have any justification, because “everything” stemmed from their lust. All black and no white – not even a smidge of grey. Even the colour grey set beside jet black can look so mercifully like “white.” Kimball does not see it. He is totally blinded by his own inner distortions and scrupulosity. He allows nothing to pierce his dull and lifeless generosity, except Black. No couple in their situation are that darkthat loveless and that selfish. Why could not even Kimball acknowledge that love contains complex feelings that will include not only lust (desire) but selfless devotion, sacrifice, commitment, loyalty and profound aspirations – all mixed up together?

Like too many people with his type of disgust and abhorrence of all matters sexual – he is “taken over” by his unassailable scrupulosity. And I do not mean he was screaming and shouting and out of control. No, he was cool and measured, but he manifests a repeatedly dysfunctional failure to see the real picture – the whole picture. How much better it would have been for him to try instead to stand back from the rush and clamour to throw stones—so common in all of us, where we level judgements and criticism based on an “ever so correct” assumption of what we judge to be right or wrong. Kimball’s blindness to the greys – the realities of life (the light within the darkness) is a sad reflection of all Mormons, even within my own family. When you have exacting views about the standards of morality or what God expects and what ultimate salvation demands, then you start to see too much repugnance in those with whom you should see less. Ingrained Mormonism should engender tolerance, understanding and compassion – leading to rapid acceptance. That is what you would hope for, but I’m afraid the prejudice against an ex-member, or in this case, an unrepentant couple, will show itself. This does not mean that the likes of President Kimball had no “kindness,” “compassion,” or “love”…. they do, but it is constrained, or can I say: “hampered” under the influence of indoctrination, which places extraordinary and over-weighted gravity upon the importance of virtue, purity, endurance, and obedience, etc., etc.

Kimball’s attitude and response to this couple reminds me of something the late Reverend Jessop said in his book: ‘Law and Love’…

“Concern for the perfect cleanliness of one’s soul is the bridge that leads from Puritanism at its best to Puritanism at its worst. The righteousness of duty is never further than an inch from self-righteousness.”

Kimball uses a verse from Titus in the bible, to describe the hearts of these two lovers as “defiled”… “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure…”

How stupid. He, himself, fulfils that verse, because he appears ill equipped or incapable of noticing the slightest vision of where their hearts (on a deeper level) resided. He cannot, or will not see them, because he is concerned with precept not people – he just sees their sin… and its repugnance! Apparently, what these two youngsters say and what they feel, is sin. With key figures that have lead the Church and instructed it on how to understand and deal with our own sexuality, no wonder so many got messed up. He was the one who was “defiled” for his utter failure to see them as “whole” people and his utter failure to discern any form of purity, goodness or beauty within their character and love, despite their fornication. He saw only filth and sin and this booklet is a testament to the state of Kimball’s mind and the deficiency of his Church.

Jessop further described a strange contradiction, which he refers to as: the badness of goodness.’ It is the very thing that the Christ hated in the Pharisee’s and is personified in the very mindset and methods inculcated in men like Spencer W Kimball. His kind of “goodness” becomes “badness,” because its harshness goes into hypocritical overkill. This is how Jessop put it:

“Is there anything so implacable as moral rigour? In its secular form it is harsh enough, but when it is part of a religious life, deriving its sanctions from God, it can be inexorable to the point of fiendishness. It was goodness combined with god­liness, construing its absolute moral laws as divine commandments, and thereby rousing the most tremendous emotions we are capable of to sustain obedience, that enabled the Inquisitors to send their victims to the stake with the inhumanly pious formula, “We burn their bodies to save their souls“, and that led Calvin also to procure the execution of fellow-citizens. I do not think that all the Inquisitors and Calvin had no human affections. They found high reasons for suspend­ing them. They had a view of life that made particular affection often wrong and general duty always right. In them moral rigorism showed its perfect fruit, goodness consistently leading to bad­ness.” (Emphasis mine)

Kimball starts with a monumental failure to appreciate the context of Love and how it also contains lust. Church people may not like that word – it will sound uncomfortable in their ears, but we need to be less prosaic and sanctimonious. The Collins dictionary defines Lust as follows: (1) A strong sexual desire (2) A strong desire or drive and (2) To have a passionate desire. I ask the reader a straight forward question… “why you are here? Why are you alive? Why do you exist?” Answer: you are here, because a man had a “strong sexual desire” toward your mother. CS Lewis once expounded the New Testament verse where Jesus said:

“Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them Male and Female, And said, for THIS CAUSE shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cling to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4-5)

He then asks the question: What was “the cause” of a man leaving his parents to become married to a wife? His answer, was sexual attraction. It is the reason the majority leave our home to find a partner. If you say the reason is love, you would also be correct, yet sexual attraction is at the core of it and is part of that love. Sexual attraction is about “strong desire.”

Unfortunately, everywhere the word Lust is used in scripture, it has negative connotations. For instance: “the Lusts of the flesh . . . the Lust of the eyes,” are all made out to be “bad.” Generally speaking, the bible has a negative and unhealthy view of desire when it is related to our carnality or sexual expression. It is disparaged and warned against. It is seen as an opposite to the attainment of spirituality. This obsession in scripture about our carnality is frankly excessive too. That is why the Catholic faith for centuries has believed sexual pleasure to be morally wrong and dirty. That’s the problem of “men” writing scripture and telling us it came from their god. Read the New Testament letters and I defy anyone to not get a sense of this paranoia? If there is a God, it is a distortion of what He or She would have intended. It is also why Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had the exact same attitude or conditioning about sensuality. They too were exposed to the prevailing Christian culture of their day, except hypocritically, both gave full vent to their lusts by pretending to legitimise polygamy with divine approval.

Once again I ask a question: “Is a strong passionate desire for your partner wrong?” By definition (according to the dictionary) a strong passionate desire must be Lust – it is what you experience when you really fancy your partner or spouse. According to CS Lewis, that is why we were made male and female. We can play with words and get deeply into semantics, but the essence of what I am saying should be apparent. If at least once in any given week you have a very strong sexual desire, then you have lust. If you don’t like the word, then call it by another name, but please do not do what Kimball does – call your desire “love” and somebody else’s “lust,” – just because they have found it harder than you to control it, or because yours is felt inside a marriage and theirs is experienced outside a marriage; it is the same desire.

“But hang on a minute,” I hear you say… “this interview was not with a mature married couple who were worthy and respectful of each other’s deep love, but with two young people who did not know the meaning of love and who were committing fornication?” Yes, but how could they be expected to know the deep meaning of love – they had not been through life yet! They would, in time, know so much more. Only a harsh and ruthless person would disparage whatever level of love they were capable of feeling. Right now they knew sure enough that they were crazy about each other and wanted to be together… every contented middle aged couple started off like that – with beautiful dreams and the willingness to give everything to each other – including passionate physical desire (lust).

We are all the same. Even Kimball in his appalling and bigoted remarks, once had such “lust” for his young wife. The fact that he might have managed to “control himself” before he was married, was lucky for him. How fortunate he had the strength (or lack of passion) to keep himself (and her) intact. But did the “passion” he presumably had after he was married (strong sexual desire – lust) become ok because he was married? Does marriage make lust ok? If this desire is really strong, we might be justified in defining it as Lust. Given that you are still attracted to your spouse or partner – if you say you have “desire” in your marriage, but not lust, then why do you differentiate? Is it because you define lust as a force which always functions and proceeds “selfishly,” without regard to another? Ok, have it your own way – I do not like that form of desire either… it will indeed ruin a relationship before long and should be avoided and controlled. Trouble is, Kimball’s accusation is that they were full of this type of selfish desire and nothing else. According to him, they had not a shred of decency. How well Jessop said that Christ attacked the moral aristocracy and protected bad men from good men. “Christianity,” he said, “is less an exposure of obvious badness than an indictment of obvious “goodness.”

The real truth is this: their “desire” at the moment of fornication, was the same as Kimball’s “desire” on his wedding night. It is the same in all of us and Kimball makes an enormous and fundamental error to label theirs’ as evil and lustful. To say that the desire in a couple who have found it very difficult, or even impossible to control themselves to be only lust (an evil selfish desire) and is the very opposite to a couple who did control themselves, is palpable nonsense and cannot be taken seriously. Here we probably have the biggest Church leader in Mormonism’s history, (at least in my lifetime) betraying the very Nature and capacity of a young couple in a blistering attack, and further – in a denial of their deeper integrity. If there exists a sin in their fornication (and I do not believe there is) it did not give him the right to tar every EMOTION, every DESIRE and every MOTIVATION within this couple, with the same brush. His crass inability to sense, celebrate and encourage their innate goodness was totally wiped out in his vicious attack.

Why is that… why would he do that? It is because men like Kimball can only see immorality as “utter defilement,” or “repugnance” (In Mormonism it has always been defined as next to murder) He could only see depravity. His terrible description of all their motives indicates clearly he did notbelieve” in them could not believe one shred in their love… could not see, salvage or acknowledge even a small drop of their vast unknown reservoir of love. Ironically, I remind you of the scripture he quoted them, which seems so much more apt for him… “but unto them that are defiled and UNBELIEVING is nothing pure…” Kimball could not BELIEVE in their love, because he was blinded by the perception of their defilement. It was nothing more than a projection of himself.

Ok, suppose this lust was tempered and controlled with common sense, compassion and sensitivity – does it equate nearer to Love… might it then be called love? If lust was always selfish and indifferent to a partner, I would hate it too. It is absurd for Kimball to accuse this couple of that kind of lust, just because it might have been difficult for them to control that particular desire before marriage. Of course, it may not have been difficult – it might have been a free and willing choice? It makes no difference.

If I powerfully desire my wife or partner the day before we are due to be married – as opposed to the day after… is that lust and therefore bad? Kimball says it is. I can understand a churchman saying their actions were wrong, but he defines their motives and desires as EVIL. So then, we must all be evil – all our sexual desires are bad? Strong or weak, sexual desire is a normal biological urge whether before or after a wedding. If it is to be classified as intrinsically evil and selfish before marriage, then it must be intrinsically evil after marriage. For Kimball to go on about their corrupt desires (lust) is like saying the urge to eat, sleep or drink, is evil. It is not evil – it is normal and healthy.

For some to capitulate before their wedding has nothing to do with “selfishness,” but much more to do with weakness, or indeed, a determined free choice, which contains no weakness at all – and no guilt! Weakness does not make a person evil and it most certainly does not contaminate their entire outlook and character. That is what the Church did to me – it screwed me up inside and made me feel depraved – unloved and unworthy of God. It still does it today to the unlucky souls it is supposed to care for. Unfortunately, Kimball makes himself perfectly clear in this booklet that biological urges and pleasures should not be the substantive reason or justifications for sex. He bangs the drum of procreation like the earlier polygamists of the Church – an old worn out view from the “sex is dirty” generation.

Fundamentally, what is the difference between a strong sexual desire the day before a couple is married and the day after? None. That fornication (sex before marriage) may be inappropriate in a biblical sense, did not sully the motives, intentions and the feelings of that couple. They may, or may not have guilt, but their very real hearts and the love they share, may be no different to the couple who manage (according to Kimball) to have complete selflessness and no lust in their relationship before marriage. Indeed, their level of devotion may, or may not, be greater. Weakness or strength is not a barometer of goodness or depth of love.

Most couples in the church who experience such overwhelming desires, just about manage to keep a lid on it. They do not want to spoil the prospect of their wedding day being postponed because they have confessed some sin to their bishop as they go to him for a temple recommend, without which you cannot enter the temple. If a couple do have some moral problems before their wedding day, does that mean they are “selfish” or “depraved”? According to Kimball – yes it does. In fact the language he uses to describe them and those who do such things and have such feelings are a shuddering disgrace to the Church he represented. His language and attitude alone is an affront to love. It is a paranoid madness. I can barely stomach the defiling words printed in his address! This man has been nowhere and learnt nothing. He was born in the wrong dispensation. I repeat, he would have been a perfect choice for a judge in the medieval courts of the Inquisition – as Jessop said: “goodness consistently leading to bad­ness.”   

I cannot, and would not argue that for members of the Church to have sex before marriage is not to break a biblical commandment and Church law. I would not dispute Present Kimball’s right to inform the couple they had violated Church teaching and one of Gods commandments… they knew that anyway, but what Kimball did was to alienate or separate the qualities of this couple and portray them as individuals devoid of true love, because they were having a sexual relationship. What madness. He describes them as beings of negative and destructive energies – because of their lust. Love was impossible. In his mind, they could not possibly have possessed a deep loving regard for each other, or possessed self control in many other important areas, or selflessness, or appreciation, or tenderness, or respect – because they had too much passion!

They have to be demonised. It is always extremes – black or white – completely pure or utterly depraved – righteous or wicked. On page 14 of this booklet he contrasts their lust with the virtues of love and its many attributes – as if this young couple had never experienced such attributes and feelings. He forces this couple to view their lust as a poison, which has corroded and corrupted all their other virtues, or as if they never had them to start with! He accomplished in this interview and with the BYU audience, what he did in the Miracle of Forgiveness – he makes people feel totally and thoroughly bad about themselves.

I think back to the time when I went with my wife-to-be and had our interview with our Mormon Branch President and subsequently, our stake leaders, in order to obtain our worthiness ‘recommend’ to enter the temple to be sealed. We got through by the skin of our teeth. I could not say “yes” to the question: “Are you morally clean?” yet neither were we guilty of fornication.

I do not genuinely remember what I said, but I do remember the Branch President was new and seemed inept and embarrassed with our confessions. He said it did not matter – we were all human. We got our recommends. Whether I lied to my stake leaders I simple cannot remember. (And that’s the truth) As painful and as awful as it would have been – I would have lied to anyone to protect my fiancée from the devastation of not being able to be sealed on the appointed day, because the whole world knew and were invited to the wedding! As I have already said, being barred from the temple sends a message to everyone ‘you are unworthy’ – ‘you have been naughty.’ Everyone knows. I think I could have hacked it, but the love and regard I felt for my fiancée made me so worried about her and the impact it would have upon her. She did not deserve it. Actually, neither of us did, but I could not see it at the time. The guilt you feel is loaded and magnified by just being a Mormon. Indoctrination always makes you feel that way – makes you feel dirty. We felt guilt out of all proportion to reality.

People like Kimball tell you that this crime is “next to murder,” as did elder Packer at April 2011 conference. They tell you it will eat you up all your life and leave a scar that will never heal. At the time of our temptations I remember thinking with a sense of terrible regret… ‘I just want us to be 6 months ahead of where we are now.’ But mixed with the guilt was tremendous aspirations, hopes, dreams and worthy intentions. Not only was I passionate, I was also selfless, devoted and prepared to sacrifice anything to make her happy. I had lust and genuine love. I KNOW what that couple felt like. Would we live and feel this scar all ours days? Would our conduct haunt our future and bring many tears and bitter regrets? According to everything I have ever read or heard from conferences and from the pulpit, it would. What fools they were!. Now I look back with the advantage of time and experience. Where did these people come from who scared the pants off us and drugged us with obsessions of self loathing and near despair? What idiots they all were! How stupid I was to trust them with my life and soul!

Love is so powerful and life is so wonderful, you don’t stay in one place or any place – you move forward and upward without looking back and enjoy the entire experience ahead of you. Being with my wife was so astounding and so exciting that this past episode seemed like mere teething. If you want scars and bitter regrets you will have them. If you don’t, they just fly away! Those men, who spoke for God at the Salt Lake conferences and at our local chapels, regularly warned us of the regret, the scars, and the burden of guilt we would drag down the years of our lives. They were totally false – the fear-mongers and gloom-merchants, and we were dim-witted enough to believe them!

You don’t have to believe and trust everything they tell you. Your own heart and soul will be a better guidance system for you than the rubbish you will hear at Church. Conscience is not intrinsically pure – it can be twisted and distorted into guilt by anyone at any time – including yourself. Looking into your heart, is not looking for what is evil and shunning it, it is looking for goodness and love – looking for what feels lovely, and choosing it. The fact that it might offend a Church leader, a relative or even scripture, is irrelevant.