On “evil-speaking” a cultural privilege as to who can be criticized and who can’t.

I was raised to respect the leadership and did so for the first forty years of my life or so. My life followed the traditional pattern of a young man in a tiny mountain town whose dreams and aspirations were still being formed. I remember American History as a required class my junior year and American Government my senior year.

From Wikipedia

Anti-Communism Efforts
Ezra Taft Benson was an outspoken opponent of communism and socialism, and a strong supporter, but not an official member, of the John Birch Society, which he praised as “the most effective non-church organization in our fight against creeping socialism and Godless Communism.” Benson requested permission of church president David O. McKay to join the Birch Society and sit on its board, but the request was denied.

Benson was a close friend with Birch Society founder Robert W. Welch Jr., exchanging dozens of letters, and many hours in person discussing politics. When Nikita Khrushchev came in September 1959 to the USA, Benson opposed his visit. From the 1950s to the 1980s, his public support of anti-communism often put him at odds with other leaders of the LDS Church. In 1960, Benson made a proposition to Brigham Young University president Ernest L. Wilkinson that his son Reed be used as a spy to “find out who the orthodox teachers were and report to his father.” Wilkinson declined the offer, stating “neither Brother Lee nor I want espionage of that character.” Later in the 1960s and 1970s members and advocates of the Birch Society did conduct espionage at BYU.

In October 1961 General Conference, Benson said, “No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction.” This, and similar statements by Benson in the December Church News led Hugh B. Brown, a politically liberal member of the first presidency of the LDS Church, to begin publicly and privately push back against Benson.

In the April 1962 General Conference Brown said, “The degree of a man’s aversion to communism may not always be measured by the noise he makes in going about and calling everyone a communist who disagrees with his personal political bias. … There is no excuse for members of this Church, especially men who hold the priesthood, to be opposing one another over communism.”

In October 1962, Benson formally endorsed the John Birch Society, as his son Reed Benson accepted a leadership role in the society. Reed Benson had been using LDS Church chapels for Birch Society meetings, a move that angered both Brown and first counselor Henry D. Moyle, who believed that it violated the LDS Church policy. Hugh B. Brown wrote in a letter shortly after the endorsement that he was “disgusted” and if Ezra Taft Benson continued his John Birch activities that “some disciplinary action should be taken.”

In January 1963, the First Presidency issued a statement, “We deplore the presumption of some politicians, especially officers, co-ordinators and members of the John Birch Society, who undertake to align the Church or its leadership with their political views.” Three days later, Benson spoke at a Birch Society endorsed political rally, reported by several newspapers as purposefully ignoring the First Presidency statement, and embarrassing to the LDS Church. The Birch Society in February 1963 asked its members to “Write to President McKay,” with the suggested verbiage to praise “the great service Ezra Taft Benson and his son Reed (our Utah Coordinator) are rendering to this battle, with the hope that they will be encouraged to continue.”

That same month, Benson gave a copy of his book, The Red Carpet: A Forthright Evaluation of the Rising Tide of Socialism-the Royal Road to Communism, to newly called Apostle N. Eldon Tanner, who was a Democrat, and had been a Canadian politician in the Alberta Social Credit Party.

In 1963, the First Presidency sent Benson to Europe to preside over the missionary work there. Some, including the New York Times, interpreted this move as an “exile” after Benson’s virtual endorsement of the John Birch Society in general conference. McKay publicly denied that the assignment was an exile or a rebuke, but other church leaders, including Joseph Fielding Smith, indicated that a purpose in sending Benson to Europe was to break his ties with the Birch Society.

He published a 1966 pamphlet entitled “Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception”. In a similar vein, during a 1972 general conference of the LDS Church, Benson recommended that all members of the church read Gary Allen’s New World Order tract “None Dare Call It a Conspiracy”. U.S. Representative Ralph R. Harding, during a speech in Congress, accused Benson of being “a spokesperson for the radical right” and using his apostleship to give the impression that the church “approved of” the John Birch Society. President Eisenhower endorsed Harding’s criticism of Benson.

When I began to express doubts about Church history, the literality of golden plates, the idea that spiritual wifery involving young teenage girls was righteous did not imply to anyone that I was doubting the Church or its leaders – so long as I kept it to myself. Once I made such thoughts known however, the knee-jerking commenced.

As a young Mormon husband and father who still carried many of the traditional conservative thinking that existed in the 1970’s and 80’s under predominantly the influence of Ezra Taft Benson who eventually became the Prophet, I had my biases. In 1968 and about to enter the military, I voted for Nixon because LBJ had gotten us deeper into VietNam. In 1972 I voted for Nixon against McGovern because he was supported by the hippy beatnik crowd.

Although I voted for Carter in 1976 because Ford had pardoned the crook Nixon, I went rushing back into the arms of Reagan who asked if I was better off now than four years ago.

Somewhere over the years – probably when the innate conservatism of the Church and culture collided with the radical and liberal thinking of the generations of the 1960’s and thereafter, the idea of political correctness took on a different form.

I felt that I fit in with my culture, my society and my religion, all of which taught some form of what I now feel to be Kindergarten conservativism. When the future President of the Church, Harold B. Lee, said the following in General Conference, April of 1971 when I was in the military and serving overseas, it went right over my  head. I was, without thinking about it in such terms, a Kindergarten Conservative and not any kind of liberal.

Unfortunately, some are among us who claim to be Church members but are somewhat like the scoffers in Lehi’s vision—standing aloof and seemingly inclined to hold in derision the faithful who choose to accept Church authorities as God’s special witnesses of the gospel and his agents in directing the affairs of the Church.

There are those in the Church who speak of themselves as liberals who, as one of our former presidents has said, “read by the lamp of their own conceit.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine [Deseret Book Co., 1939], p. 373.) One time I asked one of our Church educational leaders how he would define a liberal in the Church. He answered in one sentence: “A liberal in the Church is merely one who does not have a testimony.”

Dr. John A. Widtsoe, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve and an eminent educator, made a statement relative to this word liberal as it applied to those in the Church. This is what he said:

“The self-called liberal [in the Church] is usually one who has broken with the fundamental principles or guiding philosophy of the group to which he belongs. … He claims membership in an organization but does not believe in its basic concepts; and sets out to reform it by changing its foundations. …

“It is folly to speak of a liberal religion, if that religion claims that it rests upon unchanging truth.”

And then Dr. Widtsoe concludes his statement with this: “It is well to beware of people who go about proclaiming that they are or their churches are liberal. The probabilities are that the structure of their faith is built on sand and will not withstand the storms of truth.” (“Evidences and Reconciliations,” Improvement Era, vol. 44 [1941], p. 609.)

On Speaking  Evil of Leaders

In 1839, Mormon prophet Joseph Smith received and then published the following as part of Section 121 of the Book of Commandments (later renamed the book of Doctrine and Covenants.)

D&C 121: 16
Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.

As a fundamental of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this concept has become thoroughly ingrained in the society of active believers who publicly support and sustain the top leadership of the Church every April and October.

This concept is so ingrained in the believing culture that knee-jerk reactions are easily predictable and are triggered almost instantaneously with the appearance or hearing of disagreement with the highest leadership. In the mid 1980’s when my doubts overcame my convictions I was not aware of the impact of my publicizing my doubts. The knee-jerk reactions appeared to be instinctive, un-meditated and perfunctory.

Being slow of wit and thick headed I was a long time attempting to persuade friends and families of what I considered the justification and legitimacy of my thoughts and conclusions. Then it finally dawned on me. I was criticising personal points of view, sets of beliefs and values that were working very well in the lives of those who could  not seem to understand my thinking, let alone agree with me. I came to understand that I was communicating thoughts to someone who did not want to hear or even  contemplate them; someone who was willful and deliberate in rejection of my “truths” and denial of my “facts,” I eventually came to a place of forcing myself to agree to disagree with folks only for the purpose of a preserved but unreasonable relationship.

What about this refusal to hear from someone who seems afraid to hear?

Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks has talked about a lack of reverence for someone in authority in an ecclesiastical sense.

Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947,

“‘When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.’ (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)” (Address to Church Educational System teachers, Aug. 16, 1985.)

Somewhere in all this, a strange thing happened in the Mormon Corridor. Condemnation of dissent and disagreement with ecclesiastical authority somehow jumped from Church to include disagreement with  State. Some kind of “one true and faithful political point of view” became the equivalent of Mormonism’s “true churchiness.”

One of the more revered fictional characters in the Book of Mormon is General Moroni

You can see it in any venue where opinions may be freely offered, read or heard. You could see it when Senator Bennett, a moderate and honorable Republican incumbent was voted out in favor of a radical tea-party type with much less substance,  Mike Lee. It was obvious that aging Orrin  Hatch could see the writing on the wall despite his blind and embarrassing loyalty to party over country.

Though I doubt that most practicing Mormons who consider themselves  “conservative”  in a way that even Barry Goldwater would have not recognized, the blind reverence for title and position are in place regardless of any other aspect of a man’s character – in this case the President of the United States.

It is not socialist or liberal influences that have conjured up knee-jerk labels such as “libs”, “libtards”, or the like, tossing them around like ketchup and mustard at a barbecue. It took me a long time to conjure up my own pejorative equivalent in the labelling business: “Maga-ites.”

I plead guilty.

Bottom line is that I no longer feel a spiritual kinship with friends and family connected to religion. Culture yes. Religion no. With on-going disputes on endless threads of comments, I see no progress being made and only further alienation.

It’s a sad loss but a real commentary on the state of polarization in which both points of view are so invested in being “right” that the investment itself is destructively wrong.

Business as usual … cause God said so

Tone deaf and clueless

Hobby Lobby owner David Green is telling store managers to stay open despite the pandemic because his wife had a vision from god.

He also warns they’ll all have to “tighten their belts” soon. His net worth is $6.4 billion—hourly employees don’t get paid sick leave.

Hobby Lobby owner David Green has reportedly sent a letter to employees updating them on the company’s stance on the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

 

Religious Literalism: The Fall from Eden

Spirituality as a religious practice is best expressed in allegorical or metaphorical terms rather than in a literalistic sense that espouses dogma and rigid assumptions of actual peoples, places and events.

The human spirit as part of and belonging to the Divine does not know of itself or of its divine connection by mere facts. Facts are not feelings, not vision and not inspiration.

Facts are an assemblage of words. Words are attempts to express in writing or voice anything from abstractions to physical things. Assembling more words only adds, word by word, the risk of wider definition and confused meanings and intents. This is particularly true when trying to use words to express feelings.

The greatest minds, the greatest inventors, the greatest scientific speculators did not think in mere wordage, but in images; images based on internal senses, based on feelings, based on hunches and intuition.

Spiritually-based thinking is feeling thinking, visual thinking, sensual thinking, even aural thinking.

Spiritually-based thinking then takes place at the place within of “no words.” Words only limit the perspective. If useful at all words must serve only as signposts to expanded views, to spiritual, mental and emotional understanding.

Thus could we not say that literal-minded religious belief represents a rejection of all that spiritually-based thinking?

Could we not say that we are born into mortality, having come from a place of no words wherein we dwelt and progressed to a point of – as Mormon theology expresses it – needing to become mortal in order to progress eternally?

Could we then not say that the real truth of a carnal negativity is not that carnal man is an enemy to God, but that literal-mindedness in our carnal condition is the enemy to living communion with the Divine Source?

Could we not say then that literal-minded beliefs posing as religion constitutes the most genuine Fall from Grace?

Could we not make the comparison that as Adam and Eve began applying literal thinking to everything that God said to them they Fell?

“If ye eat of the fruit ye shall surely die” was later compounded by evil whispering in their ears the confusing rebuttal “Ye shall not die, but be as the Gods, knowing good from evil.”

If stuck in literal-minded thinking about a reality that truly functions in a “no words” mode, those who seek further light and knowledge must seek wisely; must ignore a dangerous and continuing literal-mindedness that limits knowledge and growth to mortal definitions and mere human meanings.

The Lone and Dreary World that replaced Eden turns out to be the literalist weed patch that very Garden used to be for us.

Okay Mr. Almighty …we command the wind and the waves … right Lord?

I’m tired of it too …

There is nothing holy about rejecting medical care of people, no matter who they are, on the grounds of what their identity is.

There is nothing holy about turning someone away from a hospital.

There’s nothing holy about rejecting a child from a family.

There’s nothing holy about writing discrimination into the law, and I am tired of communities of faith being weaponized and being mischaracterized, because the only time religious freedom is invoked, it’s in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

I’m tired of it.

… I just have to get that out ahead of time, because it is deeply disturbing, not just what is happening here, but what this administration is advancing is the idea that religion and faith is about exclusion.

It is not up to us. It is not up to us to deny medical care. It is up to us to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor, to protect children, and to love all people as ourselves. – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I agree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

An open letter to the  holier-than-thou-crowd:On Prophesying, Seeing and Revelating

April Conference Priorities: No-Votes and Counterfeit Families

You can stop pretending you speak for Jesus. You have no business insisting that the answer to “What-Would-Jesus Do?”  is the bigoted, judgmental nonsense that passes for so-called public evangelical discourse.There is a large younger evangelical generation coming behind you that has already rejected your hypocrisy and will vote against your self-righteousness in  November when the ultimate pretend Christian Blowhard is un-elected.

The path of Jesus is there in the holiness of scripture:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

I have not been called to join a church or be validated by the formality of an organized sect. The Eternal Parents commune with me. Their spirit lives in me always. They have called me and invigorate me through the Spirit. I and the Parents are one. And so are each of you.

“He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.”

Our Parents are the God of Compassion. The poor are numerous and their poverty is not only a want of bread, but a poverty of spirit. Yet theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. The gospel is a living practice of the life of compassion, concern, kindness and advocacy on behalf of the poor. I am not called to get the poor to join churches, but to love the poor as I myself love the Heavenly Father and Mother.

“He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted.”

Those who mourn will be comforted. The meek will inherit the earth. They have not sent me to say ‘Be of good cheer, say your prayers, and God will bless you.’ They have not sent me to say ‘Take upon yourself my name and declare that I am your redeemer and all will go well with you.’ They have sent me to cheer the brokenhearted with my own strength and spirit, pray for the brokenhearted as I pray for my own brokenheartedness. They  have sent me to bring the brokenhearted into my own circle of prayer and bless them by deed more than word.

“To preach deliverance to the captives.”

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. The merciful will be shown mercy. They have sent me to teach the captives about their freedom and to work with them to attain freedom. They have sent me to place less value on my own riches and comfort and a greater worth on acts of goodness for the sake of goodness. They have not called me to stand in a church, speak from a book, condemn from the pulpit and retire to my mansion.

“And recovering sight to the blind”

They have not called me to say, ‘Lo, come to my chapel and be saved,’ but to send me out of my chapel and into the darkness with a light of compassion and action. Where there is blindness, I come to teach vision, a life led by the Spirit, and knowledge of the Parents of Compassion. I come to urge repentance to wholeness in an absence of blind guilt, sorrow and a sense of condemnation at the hands of those who deem themselves righteous rather than upright.

“To set at liberty them that are bruised.”

The pure in heart will see God. Peacemakers will be called the sons of God. And the persecuted? Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They have not called me to inflict fear, shame nor guilt, but to bandage wounds, pour on oil and wine and carry to the inn and pay from my own sources for the ministrations of healing.

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

A time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. The acceptable year of the Lord is every year, every month, every week, every day as God and Heaven are a living part of every moment.

The Father of the Prodigal Son is a Parent of Compassion.

The Prodigal Son is but one of all the marvelous offspring of the Parents of Compassion. He is frail and flawed, but now wise from his earlier immaturity. Aware of his failings, he knows that he has failed to hit the mark and owns his own mistakes. In not blaming Satan for his actions, he has not only ownership of his failures and successes, but proprietorship of his life. He has come to know what Jesus knew.

The eldest son is the scorekeeper, too willing to condemn when the score does not please him. Yet the Parents of Compassion equally minister to the shortcomings and failures of the elder brother, who comes to understand the value of each child in the eyes of his Father and Mother.

How wonderful to be part of a family where the Gods of Compassion has no favorites, no chosen, and no view that some sons and daughters are more worthy and righteous than others.

The woman caught in adultery was a temptation offered to Jesus by the pride and willful blindness of the judgmental mob. Jesus was not tempted, but stood next to the woman and offered his own life in a wager that goodness was greater than condemnation.

In the Parent’s house are many mansions. Yet those mansions are not arrayed on rising steps of worthiness where the children of Heavenly Parents are separated into castes of disparate worthiness.

Souls do not come to those mansions by virtue of a ledger of good deeds and obedience, but by being good for the sake of goodness.

Goodness is a pearl of much greater value than righteousness.

Heaven is not where we start but where we are. We construct our mansion on earth which will also be our mansion in Heaven. It will be constructed not on the sand of blind conformity or willful condemnation of what we as mortals judge to be evil or laden with sin. Heavenly mansions will be built only on the Street of Compassion.

The Christ Path is a Path of Action and Impact. It is impervious to whether or not we are deemed good or righteous by others. It is the path that does not seek outward recognition, but personal and private satisfaction in the pursuit of goodness.

It is that Spirit of Life that will cause the Gods of Compassion to reward openly.

The oldest Christianity os that which came to flower in the beginning before the confusion of men led to misconceptions about church and belonging; before priests and popes took it upon themselves to tell God what to do and the people how to behave; before preachers built churches after the fashion of courthouses where they could throw the book at the congregation.

There is sadness in the idea that Christian goodness brings to pass the will of God primarily through group action, political advocacy and judgmental separation of one soul from another for perceived circumstances of sin.

An image of a resurrected Jesus as a judgmental God honoring and endorsing the actions of those who condemn and separate is one difficult to reconcile to the life portrayed in scripture of He who preached a Heavenly Parent of Compassion.

Christian goodness brings to pass the will of God when it is individually infectious, passing from one soul to the next spontaneously. An epidemic of this sort will more thoroughly impact our people than all that crusades, revivals and political legislation have accomplished in the two centuries of our nation and two millenniums of regulated orthodox enforcement.

Not this …

Old Wrathful

The world needs not to be saved by the ultimate religion of the greatest truth, but to be enhanced by an exemplar of organized social achievement on the one hand and by personal spiritual invigoration, experience and inspiration on the other.

We need not be imperial with an idea of bringing the world to Christ.

We need to stop pretending that the world is that to which Adam and Eve were banished. Rather, we must recognize that the world we have is that from which in our Parents’  wisdom, Adam and Eve were sent.

Like that marvelous couple, we must realize that we are not only in the world, but of the world. If we do so, we will seek, find and be one with our Father and Mother, the God and Goddess of Compassion; they who were proclaimed by Jesus the Christ.

This …

Pieta

 And This …

Pure Religion and The Master's Path