“Old Sectarian Notions”

There are a lot of “old sectarian notions” that Mormons accept without questioning or examining. The idea that we think we know it all, and therefore, there is no need to think more deeply about it, or query the mind and will of the Lord on the matter, it itself an “old sectarian notion”.

In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a sect is that they have notions substituting for true factual and revelatory insights.

The Kingdom of God

This volume Revelations given to John Taylor and WIlford Woodruff contains seven revelations given to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff over the period from 1880 through 1889. These revelations were given to the presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but were never presented to that body for a sustaining vote, and in fact, the successors to these men in the presidency denied that these revelations were ever received. This is the reason why these revelations are called The “Hidden” Revelations.

Interpreted within the context of the times in which they were given, these revelations appear to some as speaking only of that single portion of the New and Everlasting Covenant known as plural marriage. However, the words “plural”, and “polygamy” do not appear in any of these seven revelations.

The Lord had a much broader subject in mind and simply used the questions and problems posed by the problems of that day to teach much more far-reaching principles: namely, the eternal nature of The New and Everlasting Covenant and the necessity to live the laws of God:

“My Son John: You asked me concerning the New and Everlasting covenant and how far it is binding upon my people; thus saith the Lord: All commandments that I give must be obeyed by those calling themselves by My Name, unless they are revoked by me or by My authority, and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant; for I, the Lord, am everlasting. (1886 Revelation to John Taylor.)

For if My Priesthood, whom I have called, and endowed with the spirit and gifts of their several callings, and with the powers thereof, do not acknowledge Me, I will not acknowledge them, saith the Lord; for I will be honored and obeyed by My Priesthood. (1882 Revelation to John Taylor.)

Section 132 of the D & C makes it clear that Celestial Marriage is a new and everlasting covenant, but it is only part of THE New and Everlasting Covenant, which covers “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, [and] expectations” which should be “made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise”, and which endure in and after the resurrection. (verse 7)

What is a society if not those beings which compose it and those things which enable them to relate one to another. Section 132:7 lists just about everything that could be considered a relationship between two people, including but not limited to marriage. The Kingdom of God on earth, then, is nothing more than a group of people who are bound together in all their relationships by the ordinances of The New and Everlasting Covenant. Or, in other words, they understand and live according to The Gospel of The Kingdom.

Where does the church fit into all this? A church, as a body of believers, bound together by common goals and ideas, may choose whether or not to take upon itself the Name of Christ as a body.

A church may also choose whether or not to become subject to the laws of God as contained in the New and Everlasting Covenant. No church is the same as the Kingdom of God, but any church may choose to be subject to the Kingdom of God. In this light, it seems ridiculous for any church to proclaim itself as a true church any more than a club can proclaim itself a true club—let alone, the ONLY true club!

The only statement a church can or should make is that it, as a body, sustains the Kingdom of God and is willing to function within The New and Everlasting Covenant. Or, at the very least, supports its political rule for the sake of world peace. All this, as the D & C tells us, will be voluntary; it will not be the kind of forced rule we are so accustomed to in our present world. (See D & C 97:19, 105:32, 45:68-69.)

Beyond this, it matters little what additional customs or traditions a church believes in. A person could be a good Catholic, a good Jew, a good Muslim, as well as a good Mormon and live as he has been taught, provided that he or she obtains the Holy Priesthood, receives the ordinances of the House of the Lord, and lives by the covenants entered into therein.

This may seem a rather bold statement, but The New and Everlasting Covenant is not tied to any particular mode of worship, including and especially Mormonism. It will be that universal thread that finally ties the entire human race, with all its variegated cultures and traditions, together into one body.

What applies to a church applies to any other society, business, nation, or human organization whatsoever. In fact, this is how ZION will brought about – not by one self-proclaimed telestial organization conquering the globe with its truth, but when person after person, church after church, and nation after nation each realizes that man alone does not have the answers, and that only by aligning oneself with the laws of God will we ever establish the era of peace, righteousness, and prosperity that the ancients dreamed and sang about – the ZION of our God!

Authority and Wisdom

People who have to assert their authority don’t have any. As apostle is supposed to act in the name of Christ and be a special witness of Name of Christ, not in the name of the apostleship, which has no inherent authority in and or itself, only to act in the name of Christ.

I’m seriously wondering about the arrogance and sense of entitlement among the church leaders. The Spirit seems to be missing.

It used to be that when the First Presidency spoke out on a political issue, they didn’t take sides, but came up with a third-way solution that the average person would never think of. And the members were amazed at the wisdom they showed. Now, the church is in lock-step with the arch-conservatives and the Catholic Church when it comes to gay rights.

Surely, men of inspiration could come up with something more humane and still follow the Gospel. Jesus often came up with surprising answers that often irritated the authorities, but were completely in line with the Gospel. But, the time is long past to extrapolate and wrest from the scriptures,or put something in the mouth of Christ that he never said, or follow the views of some medieval Catholic theologian. They seriously need to get in touch with the living Christ.

Either that, or stand aside and make room for people who are willing to humble themselves and ask for wisdom.

The November 15th Policy

I see it as a unintended test (but a test nonetheless) to see how long people will tolerate being governed and judged by a book of rules they cannot read (unless it is leaked), and by “revelations” they cannot read and have no voice in sustaining.

The Law of Moses was intended to be a “schoolmaster” to lead us to Christ. Its purpose was to impose such heavy burdens on the people that they would be led to see the futility of the law as a means to achieve perfection and would be brought to that point of tension in their lives where they are forced to seek “a more excellent way”.

The situation is similar today. The Letter of the law or the Spirit of the law. Obedience by micromanagement, or obedience by following the Two Great Commandments.

There are many people, especially LGBT people, who are at this point of decision in their lives and are faced with choices they refuse to make. Gay, Happy, Mormon. They can’t have all three with making some complicated rationalizations which force them to “navigate” their way through life.

The purpose of this policy is to force a decision: either stay in the church, fall in line, support the leaders with all your heart, live celibate,and cease whining about about the policy, or leave the church, live your own life, make your own peace with God, and create your own relationship and your own family with somebody you truly love.

If this policy doesn’t force people to face reality and the decision they must make, the Lord will surely up the ante, and another, even more stringent rule, regulation, or policy will leak out and bring them even closer to decision.

What Attracted Me to the Church — Making Sense through Music

I was attracted to the singing and the music of the church. People in our branch used to sing the hymns with enthusiasm. I learned most of the words by heart, and they took on a special meaning for me.

We thank thee O God for a prophet, to guide us in these latter-days

My grandparents sang this song on a record. They walked into a dime store, once, and wanted to record their voices. It was the only song they knew. This hymn always reminds me of them.

There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home.

Again, this reminds my of my grandparents. They were really in love.

Trials make our faith grow stronger. Truth is nobler than a crown.
We will brave the tempest longer, thought the world upon us frown.

We used to sing this song in Sunday School. I didn’t know why the world would frown upon us, but it made me proud and it made me think that we must be doing something right. The time to be worried is when you as a church try so hard to fit into the world, that you forget what you really stand for.

Today while the sun shines, live to be true
Constant and faithful all the way through.

I wanted more than anything to live the Gospel and to be constant and faithful to it. It wasn’t until I later attended religions classes at BYU that I learned that the Church and the Gospel were not one in the same. The Gospel is everlasting, but the Church is only temporary. It was about that time, at college, when I saw many Mormons (in name only) lying and cheating the students, that my loyalties became divided.

When I saw how the students were treated, I wrote a little song about it. The melody should be familiar:

We thank thee O God for the profit, we made off the students this year.
It’s keeping two cars in the driveway. It’s keeping the fridge full of beer.
No, things aren’t so good here in Utah. We’re poor with a capital “P”.
So, thanks, Lord, for sending the money, so bail out the economy.

I decided at that point to embrace and remain true to the Gospel, and tolerate the church merely as a social institution, and also as a gathering place for some of the most wonderful people I ever met. I was in love with the members. I revered some of the General Authorities, like LeGrand Richards and Harold B. Lee, but didn’t think much of the church as a whole.

Do what is right, let the consequence follow. Battle for freedom in spirit and might.
And with stout hearts, look ye forth to tomorrow. God will protect you, then do what is right.

In Aaronic priesthood, we used to have monthly lessons with a theme. One of the themes was “Be honest with yourself.” Another one was: “This above all, to thine own self be true. Thou canst not them be false to any man.” In Primary, in the Co-Pilots, Pilots, and the Guide Patrol, we learned the importance of following the compass. In Scouting, my dad taught me how to steer a boat in a straight course by fixing on the goal on the distant shore and constantly making the necessary adjustments. The D&C advises us to be wise and take the Holy Spirit for our guide. To be valiant is to follow your testimony of Christ, despite all indications to do otherwise.

Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along.

My aunt says this was my favorite song in church, growing up. She says I used to sit on the front row and sing it at the top of my lungs. I have always had a penchant for putting action into words. Talk is cheap.

Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing, ’twas the boy’s first uttered prayer.

Every young Mormon child is familiar with this story, and with the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. These were always great examples to me of being valiant, as I mentioned above, and sticking up for the truth. The lesson I took away from the life and story of Joseph Smith was not that he was some kind of special demi-god, evolved far beyond us ordinary humans, but that if it could happen to him, it could happen to us, provided we follow the same principles he followed. The D&C promises as much.

O that we in the day of his coming may say, I have fought my way through,
I have finished the work, thou hast sent me to do.

I have always felt that my life had a mission, much as I feel that everybody’s life has a mission. We all have work, and rather than wait for somebody to tell us what to do, let’s be about our father’s business.

Growing up, I had all kinds of relatives in all different kinds of churches. My dad’s stepmother was a Baptist. I attended Baptist, Nazarene, and Presbyterian Bible school. Our cub scout pack met in a Congregational church, and I attended some youth programs at the local Methodist church. So I wasn’t a stranger to Protestantism. Oh yes, our neighbors were Lutherans from Wisconsin and we went to church with them a couple of times. Their pastor had all gold teeth, and I wanted to have all gold teeth so I would be a good looking angel, once I got to heaven. My step-grandmother gave us a book of ABC Children’s Bible Stories. For every letter of the alphabet, there was a story about a Biblical character or event that began with that letter of the alphabet. I was particularly taken by the phrase used to describe Abraham. He was “a friend of God”. I was amazed that a man could not only be a servant of God, but a friend of God. I wanted to become of friend of God. I later discovered that God wants us all to become his friends.

As Branch President, my uncle always went to Salt Lake City to attend conference. Back in those days, there was room in the Tabernacle for all the ward and branch leadership. I knew a little about Salt Lake City because I had aunts and uncles and cousins there and because we listened to Richard L. Evans and the Tabernacle Choir. That was part of what got me first interested in music.

My dad’s grandmother was still alive and she was a Pentecostal. My Pentecostal great-grandmother married her second husband, a really funny Italian guy, early in life, but Grandpa Galanetti did not convert. He used to say the Mormons on Sunday morning made more sense talking for 1/2 hour than the Holy Rollers did talking for 2 hours.

One year, my uncle returned with a picture of the church’s General Authorities. I looked at the First Presidency, recognized David O. McKay, then down at the Presiding Patriarch, which the church no longer has, the Presiding Bishopric, the Assistants to the Twelve. But what really caught my eye were the Twelve Apostles, for some reason. I was very interested and very curious about them. I used to love reading about the Apostles in the New Testament, and about the apostles in the church today. I added a new line to my little set prayer that I said every night: “… please bless the Twelve Apostles …”.

My mother was a member of the church. My father had not joined at the time, but he did attend church from time to time, and even stood up and bore his testimony in our little branch in Beaverton, OR. After my dad came home from WW II and the Korean War, we moved to a little one bedroom house in Beaverton. We had a large service porch in the back, and my dad hung up three Navy cots on the wall for us three boys. We had our own bunk beds. When we moved in, the house was unfinished. There were only studs separating the bedroom, living room, and kitchen. When several family members got the measles, my parents hung up blankets to the walls to keep out the sunlight, and everybody who had the measles slept in the one and only bedroom. My parents were concerned about my eyes. They didn’t want me to get measles, because of my eyes, so I slept in the living room and was not allowed in the bedroom. I never got the measles.

 

Faith Crisis Defined

People act like questioning one’s faith is a bad thing.

Faith SHOULD always be questioned. PROVE everything and and hold fast to that which is good. And the corollary to this is, if it is not good, get rid of it.

The problem, as I see it, is people have NOT been questioning their faith, but simply taking everything on faith. There is a subtle difference. But, one day reality, as it is always prone to do, creeps up on them and forces them to make a decision. This is known as a crisis.

Faith Crisis 2

I had a “faith crisis” of a different kind. It wasn’t because of church history, polygamy, Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, etc. My faith crisis came early on when I became converted to the church from the scriptures and the early writings. I became converted to a gospel, not a church. I believed that the church was best suited to implement the gospel of Jesus Christ, which has the potential to change men’s lives. Joseph Smith’s teachings about the fundamental god-like nature of man, free agency, and the principles of Zion that would transform society. All of this got me very excited about the possibilities of the church and its future mission.

This started to unravel when I moved to Utah and started college. I found a people who didn’t live, much less believe their religion. I found a church that was more interested in preserving the status quo and in damning its members to a life of mediocrity rather than lifting them up beyond the conventional norms of society. Instead of true prophecy and revelation, I find conservative talking points sugar-coated in Mormon-speak. I see no evidence of the keys their leaders claim to possess. They can’t even explain the Priesthood, or its ordinances. They cover their ignorance of the significance of the temple in a veil of secrecy.

I feel to say with Mormon: why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why have miracles ceased? It is because faith is not present, and all has become as if there had been no atonement made.

There is no faith in the church, and I have no faith in the church, and those who do so have misplaced their faith, and when the storms rage, and they are swept off their sandy foundation, they cry about a “faith crisis”.