Monday, September 17, 2018

Right thing at Right Time

I had posted something a few days ago on the blog about the SOP and a proposal I had put together after discussing the issue with friends.  I made some edits the next day but eventually took it down because I increasingly felt corrected and that I was in the wrong.  As part of my own records, and part of my own need to be honest and forthcoming, even about my mistakes, I put that back up. 

I believe now that the correct course of action by someone seeking to do God's will can be one thing in one circumstance and be something different in another circumstance.  The circumstance and the context surrounding it matter.  It's not ok to discount the voice of the people and introduce competing proposals which had not gone through the same process that others had. And which didn't properly take into account the activities and votes most recently taken.  With that in mind frankly I've had to repent.  I may yet need to repent further but my mind has cleared and these thoughts are now coming into clearer focus. 

Opposition is part of the universe we live in. I believe we are charged by God with circumstances that require all of us to act in the presence of opposition. Meaning opposing forces. That is how I believe you show faith. That is what defines the character. It’s a matter of correctly identifying the force opposing God and then act in faith in spite of it; because it’s not going to suddenly go away with the next new idea.

I’ve reasoned it through and been diligent and prayerful in my studies and research of all that has gone on over the past year+. I’ve followed opposing views as far down each respective path as my time and circumstance permitted. Some views left my mind in darkness. Some views brought light. Some continually confuse me. Some views had great light and were very Christlike but were not the relevant (or plausible) group action at the present moment with where the topic presently stands. It could have been, but as we know this could have been done a while ago.

I see the body of believers has had many options some of which I really liked but which are now in the past.  So for me, the correct choice right now given all the votes and lot process and what happened in Phoenix is to go with the LOTS. This process showed equality and respect. I voted for that method originally and trusted the outcome to God. I still do although I admit I got distracted. After all that had happened and the prayers offered, we offered a reasonable and public method (lots) for God to show us His part. Each has to decide if worked. I believe it did. God can correct where we err. This stuff is living and changing. So right now with what I know, it’s Lots. When offered a chance I hope all factions come together.  None of this is about determining who belongs to a group.  It's a phase of showing our hearts and demonstrating our ability to come together and be one.  So if we stop worrying about which group we'll belong to, or what this Lots document will portray the movement as, and go back to the humility to look for and listen for God, then we have turned back to face God. That's what I'm hoping to do.

I have compassion for other views and see no reason why any need to depart or be upset if they don’t like the LOTS document.  We have a chance to show oneness of heart. We have yet to do or sustain or adopt anything that God can then work with. After a while that seems more and more unacceptable for rational and intelligent beings to stalemate long term when the assignment was a light thing that could have been done long ago.  I don't believe we honor God in such behavior.  So I support making a decision to come together and proceed and accept what follows from God.  The time is far spent.

I vote lots and vote to sustain. I seek harmony. Let’s come together at this next conference! Just doing that would be a step of showing progress in becoming of one heart.  Would the Lord rather us come together now? Or remain divided yet longer?  I believe we are being invited to come together now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SOP and Hearts 9-11-18

9/17/18 update:

I originally wrote the below on Sept 11th.  It was a proposal to help with the SOP effort and to asses my own heart.  I made some edits the next day (making it less of a proposal as I felt ashamed of having done so) but eventually took it down completely because I increasingly felt I had been and was in the wrong, and was being corrected.  However as part of my own records, and part of my own need to be honest and forthcoming I am putting it back up. 

I do not believe at the present time this proposal was the correct action when considering the broader context of the topic. I think the content and concepts are good, and are supported by scripture, but what I didn't adequately consider the recent happenings regarding this topic, the overall history, and and even what had happened in the last 6 months.  When I consider those things, the votes, the voice of the people which had been gathered, the below was not right. 


The Statement of Principles required in the A&C has been on my mind for many months. My friend Jeff Savage along with some other friends online had a discussion that may have potential.  he below is an overview of that discussion which many contributed to.

Read first:

The below are ideas to consider. Totally voluntary. It's a seed. See if it grows. If it does not, then feel free to dismiss it.

The way faith is produced according to Lectures on Faith is by Sacrifice. And the way Zion comes is by faith. I believe that will involve breaking down barriers and people's hearts via the actions and love you demonstrate towards them. Not fighting against them, convincing them, or insisting on getting your way. In the most extreme example, Christ submitted to wicked men to be killed. Did His death mean they had the victory? Did his submission mean they won and He lost? Everything changed with the resurrection when Christ's obedience to the Father actually ended up offering redemption for those very people if they would receive it. He is worthy, He has shown the way by example.

With those ideas in mind, the body of believers is at an impasse with the Statement of Principles assignment from the Lord in the A&C. There are as many positions as there are people involved and varying levels of disagreement. While voting may work, some may feel it discards or cuts off those who vote opposed. I cannot escape that thought.

I found insight in considering this alternate option. The central idea is to intentionally lay down any personal SOP preference, agenda, along with any disagreements, and instead to do something foreign to this world; which is agreeing to adopt whatever outcome those who DO disagree, settle upon. By “disagree” I mean folks who feel strongly that the outcome must be ___ or must not be ___. I’m intrigued by potentially agreeing with those who appear to be adversaries in this matter. Or perhaps appear to be the “least” among us. Perhaps “least” in terms of how much you respect them or think them worthy of your sacrifice. Or how “least” they appear based on their controversial acceptance of the covenant. We know that actions towards the “least” (as we perceive) in scripture are said to be done unto God. Christ’s Sermon asks this kind of thing of people.

Agreeing with a subgroup as described above will identify those, who for whatever reason, disagree with anyone or have any disputes about this current assignment or which document fulfills it. Those who have disagreements can meet in smaller settings without hundreds of voices. The rest could potentially agree to AGREE with their outcome as an act of respect and desire to be unified. This will solve the impasse but will take some serious heart to do.  This wouldn't be something to formalize for every single decision that has to be made.  But for this specific time and setting it seems to fit.

This is one possible way to show by our deliberate actions that our hearts are united, that we will become one and not dispute, and that we value all, including the “least” among us. And we value those who feel compelled to disagree by allowing them to do so. For me, at the present time, I’m not sure how else any of us plan to demonstrate these traits towards those who are to be brothers and sister. I guess we can find some other “least” or some other perceived adversary to agree with at some future time. But this seems like a really good chance to display what the A&C asked for. To recap, we voluntarily allow any to disagree and will submit to their conclusion in faith believing God can correct us as we demonstrate that our hearts are right. Does this put us at the mercy of those who “least” deserve it? Keep reading.

Observation suggests there are too many voices and opinions to make any meaningful progress right now. An idea such as this will create focus on those feeling strongly enough to disagree and allow them to conclude the matter. Imagine that. How backwards is that to how the world does business? Even if it came down to just 1 person disagreeing, we would have mutual agreement and can fulfill the assignment since all previously agreed to submit. This could potentially happen very quickly, and very peacefully. I desire peace. We have a chance to proceed in peace, and love, showing overwhelming respect and selflessness to each other. Demonstrating by our actions that we do not fall short of the beliefs we profess. I guess we can postpone demonstrating that we don’t fall short, but now seems like a great time.

Chris Hammil has recently explained on the scripture blog that he is no limiting factor in publishing of the SOP in the scripture set. It’s up to the body of believers. I personally like Paul’s v2 SOP document Adrian Larsen posted on his blog a few days ago. But I’d willingly drop that and submit to the result of any who find they have disagreements with each other regarding the adoption of an SOP document. This seems peaceful, meek, and follows the example of our Lord and His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount It seems opposite of froward. There wouldn’t be a need for further mass meetings, or large scale discussions, big votes, or hundreds of voices. It can be calm and humble and quiet. We can show by laying down our weapons and prostrating ourselves before any opposition that we indeed desire to keep the covenant more than be right.

To some this may feel like rolling over and giving in or giving up. To others this may feel like its empowering individuals who are opinionated to control the will of the many. To others it may feel like it sets a poor precedent for the future. Or perhaps worse this could risk not fulfilling the assigned SOP parameters as stated in the A&C. Or any number of things along these lines. So how could this possibly produce fruit? How could we agree to our opposition? How could we?

I guess voting majority would work. But as stated earlier that decision cuts off some folks. I’d prefer not to cut off but instead submit to the outcome of those who feel passionately about one document vs another. And then ask God to correct any errors the result may have. This would show by our works that this movement can be something worth informing others about. Without showing this example, some will not be able to understand. One of my online friends told a group a phrase I'll never forget. He said "You can't think your way into being of one heart, you have to love your way into being of one mind". I would rather show unity of heart and petition for correction on the particular details as the heart is by far the weightier matter. In my view.

I believe that humility in this will bear fruit. It can be seen as an act of obedience to God, not man, in harmony with the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. To love others who are seemingly opposed. It shows honor and respect to all our brothers and sisters and affords them the freedom to disagree. And with that freedom comes the understanding the rest of the body, with regard to this assignment, has agreed to adopt their decision. Because we love them and seek to become one with them. Is this not a step towards Zion rather than Babylon? Would this not soften hearts and be fruit worthy of preservation? Would this not show heaven we are willing to repent and leave Babylon and ALL its methods? Is this not a higher way than voting and cutting off those who vote contrary?

The Lord has said in the A&C that He would labor with us. I believe Him. I would like to act in faith and show by our works that we not only say, but DO as he has asked. Then He can correct us. If the result of this proposal is an insufficient/unacceptable SOP document, then we ask and rely on Him to correct us. Many have prayed together and meekly presented the dispute before the Lord asking for His part as we were instructed in the A&C. Usually the answers from God are already before us in scripture, it’s up to us to see it. If not now, when? When are we going to begin making covenants by sacrifice if not now?

So the logistics would go something like this: Those in disagreement and those opting to submit to their choice would interestingly be in agreement all of a sudden. They would not need to vote, discuss, or even talk about the topic if they don’t want to. Those who feel passionately the SOP must be X or cannot be Y can organize themselves until such point there is a peaceful solution. Based on true principles, without coercion, without force, and respecting the agency of all. Those who maintain disagreements are already passionate about the topic so it’s not likely to drag out as the ball is in their court. Enough has already been discussed on that Guide and Standard 1000 + page blog currently archived on the Restoration Archive site that there isn’t a whole lot more to say.

If those in disagreement mutually agree then we are done. If those in disagreement cannot come to mutual agreement by the next conference we do the Dances with Wolves thing (as related in a podcast dated 9/11/18 and cast lots to identify a Chief and a Medicine Man and that individual, chosen by lots, gets to make the decision. We will have taken a step towards becoming one, while also demonstrating patience and longsuffering and persuasion. And yet still have a conclusion we can look to in the event there is another impasse among those who are debating. I don’t want to compel or coerce anyone to agree. I can’t think of a better way than this to proceed as nobly as the cause we seek. But perhaps more ideas like this exist. This is just one that has potential.

If we are not willing to take steps like this paper outlines then our claims to want Zion are empty and without evidence. So I'd like to create some evidence.

I could outline more logistics but the odds of people reading this often goes down the longer it gets. But you get the gist of how this could work. For me this seed grew. Not to say other seeds won’t grow too. But this is one that did.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Perish not

Alma 12:14  For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.

Similar thought from King Benjamin:

Mosiah 4:30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

King Benjamin says to “watch” and gives a list of things to watch.  Growing up I exclusively interpreted "watch" as “police”.  As in “police your thoughts words deeds etc…”  Because as Alma said, those things are potential condemners.  But what if we take King Benjamin's advice to “watch” but view it from a few other cultures point of view and see what it yields?  Say we go with the eastern philosophy of watching as in “observe”.  If our words and thoughts and works will condemn us then perhaps we should stop identifying with them. Maybe that’s what “watch” means?  Is to observe them but not identify with them.  All of us observe things on a daily basis which we are not necessarily participants of or identifying with.  But we observe them. 

Perhaps observing them creates enough distance between your identity and the thing that it frees you up to possibly identify with something else.  Like identifying with God’s word for example.  Seeking to become the fulfillment of God’s word just as Christ did. Since God's word is eternal that seems like a great thing to identify with and seek to fulfill. 

Continuing along those lines of being "freed up" by way of observing.  Identifying as, or unable to distance your identity from something almost suggests being possessed by or overtaken by it. Which is interesting in and of itself to contemplate. Being possessed by our thoughts or words sounds scary.  But what if we fall into that? Then we'd for sure want to start observing them.

If this approach holds true, avoiding condemnation would be a lot more simple than some belief systems have made it.  It would allow anyone to cast aside the nonsense easily and instead do the things Christ says to do.  Such as:

-Stop accusing other people*.
-Set a standard of judgement for others you yourself can pass. (Matthew 7:2)
-Stop identifying with crap that will condemn you (Alma and Mosiah verses quoted above) and see about identifying with the Word of God.

These aren't overly complicated or difficult.....maybe the Gospel isn't such heavy a burden after all.  Maybe it's within our power to perish not.

* I charged the Saints not to follow the example of the adversary in accusing the brethren, and said, “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours–for charity covereth a multitude of sins.  TPJS P193

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor of the Gods

Today is Labor Day and I've been thinking about God's Labor.

Both Genysis and the Book of Abraham describe the creation.  The book of Abraham uses the plural "God's" to describe the labors of the different creative periods.  "Period" could mean something like eon but the exact duration is not explained in scriptures.  God is also in the plural in Abraham which perhaps among other things reminds us that the image of God is both male and female.

And I, God, created man in my own image. In the image of my Only Begotten created I him. Male and female created I them. And I, God, blessed them..  

So Adam and Eve were created after the image of God, male and female.  But additionally after the image of the Only Begotten.  Which would then also be male and female.  How exactly the day of creation when man was organized occurred or over what time period has been on my mind today.

First a sidenote about sand, and then back to the creation.

To produce sand you literally have to begin with creation of a star, burnout of the star, an explosion producing the heavy silica elements which would not otherwise exist, and then a reforming of a planet from the stellar remnants. It takes billions, perhaps trillions of years and a whole round of creation and annihilation to produce a grain of sand. When you hold one in your hand, you are looking at something so ancient and so distant in its origin, that you are holding a bit of eternity in your hand. Indeed, you are holding a bit of a star. Hence the direct connection between the two analogies used with Abraham: sand and stars.

That certainly gives new meaning to the idea man was created from the "dust" of the earth.  That would mean part star.  How long have the God's been up to this labor?  It appears longer than our finite minds can fathom.  It makes you you wonder how long the people you live with or the people you see at the grocery store have existed.  Perhaps many eons.

And that bit about sand certainly gives the mind pause to consider those ideas in the context of God telling Abraham that he seed will be as the sands of the sea.  I can't speak intelligently about these things at present but I do enjoy pondering on them and letting my mind search out the deep things of God and the expanses of eternity.

Now another side-note about the veil of the temple and then back to the creation again.  Then hopefully it will all tie together. 

A number of fascinating legends regarding the veil of the temple have passed through Jewish, Christian, and even secular traditions.  Some of them are striking as they relate to ourselves and creation. 

The book of Exodus gives various instructions regarding the tabernacle and the veil, the colors, dimensions and other details.  What we do know is the veil was woven (Exodus 36:35).  Some traditions maintain it was “made by eighty-two young girls,”  The traditions hold that women traditionally made the curtain or veil.  A tradition from the Protevangelium of James (10:2) recounts a council of priests calling for the making of the veil for the temple of the Lord and reports that Mary herself had, as a child, woven the veil of the temple that was torn.  I really like this tradition.  Think of how a woman organizes and creates life in her womb.  This tradition of the temple veil fits so comfortably with what Mary, Christ's earthly Mother would do for the actual veil of Christ's flesh (Hebrews 10:20).  If this tradition is true Mary would have woven both the symbol and the reality that symbol pointed to.  In the same way Christ fulfilled in reality all the symbols the law of Moses pointed to.

I was doing some research and came upon this from Howard Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003) 238.   It says “[W]hen a needle accidentally pricked her finger, she was given a foretaste of the pain she would feel at the crucifixion".  “And the priest said: Choose for me by lot who shall spin the gold, and the white, and the fine linen, and the silk, and the blue, and the scarlet, and the true purple. And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary, and she took them, and went away to her house.”

Consider that the lot fell to Mary, the scarlet and the true purple.  So many symbols with weaving the veil, the colors, and the person.  So much meaning.  The above traditions and explanation can be found at this link.  It's dense reading but there are some great nuggets.

Continuing with the creation, temple. and veil.  One of the titles for the Heavenly Mother is “The Great Weaver” because She formed unorganized intelligence into organized spirits becoming the Mother of All Living.  (Our Divine Parents: Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. 2018).

Consider this:  The Lord dresses you in plenty of ceremonial attire designed to convey symbols with meaning. But they are not an end, they are merely symbols. Six days of creation symbolized by six articles of clothing in the present temple rites. Each one of which can be associated with one of the days of creation. Therefore as you enter through the veil, it is as if the entirety of creation is redeemed in your person. You represent salvation for the entirety of creation. Because in you, should you be able to be rescued, creation itself continues. These are symbols. They communicate to the mind ideas. Ideas which are eternal. They are not ends in themselves.  (Be of Good Cheer, Be of Good Courage Denver Snuffer 9-10-13 Lecture 1 Boise, Idaho)

The days of creation symbolized by articles of clothing.  The clothing are things the temple participants don.  They already exist, and the instruction is to put them on.  What message could that possibly communicate to the individual?  Why put these things upon you?  Seems we're added upon in some ways.  Just taking one day of creation, dry land.  If man was made of the dust then just what is man made of if we think back to the contents of sand and how it came to be?  Wow, and to think some believe the Gospel to be boring. 

I wonder if at it's core these days of creation are a veiled reference to the Great Weaver's work, weaving intelligence together.  I don't know about the notion of reincarnation and returning to this earth as various life forms, but what does peak my interest is this idea of various intelligences being woven together by our Divine Parents.  We know that all things were created first spiritually before they were naturally (Moses 3:5).  What if the days of creation as we're taught in scripture and ceremony are telling us that we are made up of intelligences that we are taught about through a creation ceremony?  I pose this all as food for thought.  I have a lot of pondering and thought still to put into these ideas. 

With all the Gospel invites us to explore what a tragedy to be bored during Sunday worship services.  To never be allowed to ponder deeply, and only accept one certain line of thinking with defined boundaries and only able to rely on certain authorities with Church callings.   It just seems unacceptable to participate week after week, year after year in such "worship" of God.  I plan to do something about that.  Joseph said it well:

"How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads of babes; yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth. Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female; let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy"   TPJS P 173

Sunday, September 2, 2018


The first letter to the Thessalonians in the New Testament has this:

But we beseech you, brethren, that you increase more and more, and that you strive to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you, that you may walk honestly toward them that are outside and that you may have lack of nothing.

The part in bold caught my eye.  What is it we are supposed to quiet?  Our voices?  Our minds?  Our worries?  Our spirit?  Our whole being?  It says “be” quiet.  As in a state of being. A possible synonym to quiet that may evoke other scriptures to your mind would be "still".  One translation is to "study to be quiet". 

Other cultures are better at meditating than typical Western culture.  Quietness of mind is not something ever taught to me by any education or religious instruction growing up.  Something central to other religious of the world was hardly mentioned in my own.  Prayer no doubt can comfortably fit as meditation.  But the rigid formula, repetitious words, and required posture I was taught growing up never fit as "meditation".  I find such calm still communion, pondering or meditation to be of great worth and now see it in the scriptures I believe to be holy writ (1 Nephi 11:1, Psalm 46:10, D&C 101:16, 1 Kings 19:11-12, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Psalm 1:2, D&C 84:85 to name a few).

I've found success calming my mind with the Ouummm thing typically associated to eastern chants or meditations.  The vibrating sound helps focus and calm my mind and body.  I often realize as soon as my mind is calm that I’ve been living too stressed, too preoccupied, and too busy.  I for one need time to calm down and live in the moment with faith.  There’s a whole bunch  of sounds everywhere that remind me to calm my mind.  Lawn mower from the neighbors, microwave, bathroom fan, car engine.  All the hummm’s remind me to stay in the present.  Inner quiet is something I believe was being taught in the letter to the Thessalonians.

I was recently reading old journal entries and found one from around 10 years ago.  I was sitting in the Jordan River temple parking lot talking with a friend after an endowment session.  I was single at the time, full of uncertainty, stressed about relationships, career, future.  He looked at me and semi sternly said “You need to relax, let go, and watch the Lord work”.  He said it with conviction that communicated it really was ok to relax and trust God more in my life.  Part of me was strongly hesitant to do this.  I had let my mind be anything and everything but quiet.  I had anything but stillness going on inside me.  It was more like turbulence on a plane flight.

Years later that phrase rings in my mind and reminds me to relax, be still and quiet, and trust God again and watch Him work in my life.  I can't remember if it was the same conversation but this same friend held up his hands as if to refer to the external world around us and said "it's all perfect".  I probably muttered something stupid about how life sure didn't feel perfect.

There's a scene in the movie The Last Samarui where Katsumoto is talking with Nathan Algrun (Tom Cruise) in a Japanese village.  It's springtime and they are looking at a blossoming tree with pink flowers blooming on it.  Katsumoto says to Nathan that one could spend a lifetime looking for the perfect flower/bud and it would not be a wasted life.  Fast forward to near the end of the movie where a battle has just taken place and he's been mortally wounded.  He is again with Nathan and sees a tree of the same kind as earlier in the movie off in the distance.  He has no doubt spent years looking for the perfect bud.  But in this moment he realizes, at the end of his life, that they were all perfect.  His last words with his dying breath was "perfect...they are all....perfect".  He realized something that enlightened him and comforted him during his dying moment. Perfection in what seemed imperfection.  Akin to the idea of the worthiness of seeing your unworthiness before God. It’s not a paradox once you get it.  

This conversation and movie scene have both been on my mind heavily the past few days.   Another worthwhile scene in that movie is when Katsumoto's son who has been observing Nathan for months in their village.  There's an ongoing sword fighting theme as Nathan is repeatedly beaten whenever he has engaged.  The scene is one where various people are learning to sword fight with practice wooden poles.  Tom  had been consistently loosing these sword fights for who knows how long, and had taken quite a beating numerous times.  At this point in his development the native Japanese character watches yet another failure and counsels him: "Too many minds".  Then references his opponents mind, the onlookers minds, his own mind, and says again "too many minds".  Then in simple accented English teaches the message: "no mind".  After which Tom finds silence in his mind and defeats (well technically a draw) a longtime foe in a sparing match with a singular zen mindedness. 

I think there is a lot to quieting the mind.  The outside world according to many belief systems is perfect.  The mind (mine anyway) cannot even tolerate this thought until it's quiet.  But what if it's true?  What if we have to quiet the mind to see the truth?