Saturday, September 20, 2014

Utopia

Sir Thomas More titled a 1516 book Utopia, coining a term used forever after for an ideal society. Sir More may have coined the term but Utopian ideas go back to Plato's Republic for scholars, and Enoch for Christians and Jews. Fiction writers often try to describe an imaginary perfect society, and Hollywood regularly uses the theme. Mankind yearns for it.

There will be a latter-day Zion. The scriptures give little description, and the smallest of criteria for Zion. "The Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." (Moses 7:18.) That is the list:
-one heart
-one mind
-dwelt in righteousness
-no poor among them.

Seems simple. The list is so short it begs the questions: Why haven't we done this? Why aren't WE doing this?

There are a lot of "rich, learned, wise and noble" (D&C 58: 10) who think they are going to be residents of Zion because, well, they're rich, learned, wise and noble. They believe they came here with noble heritage making them elect, special, chosen and endowed with great power. I hope they gather. I hope they move right into their Utopian experiment and get to enjoy each other's prideful company.

The ideas given by a kind and patient Lord in Mesa were not mine. I am trying to understand them myself. Here is what I think at present in my struggle with the material:

Families need to develop independent and strong faith in God by worshiping together, praying together, studying the scriptures, performing ordinances like baptism using power given by God, and the sacrament. They should pay tithes and help those in need among them. If there is excess, reserve it for a worthy purpose. There will be some challenges, and some divisions will no doubt require study, faith, prayer and humility to overcome. Eventually they will become one.

When families expand by marriage the new sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and their families should likewise fellowship with one another and practice their religion. As soon as anyone new joins an association, everything fractures again. But time, patience and careful repetition of what went before will eventually restore unity.

If several extended family groups unite in fellowship, disunity returns and rough edges will need to be smoothed out, feelings respected, and different views discussed. Because families have an existing order and likely have a father whose priesthood is known and respected, these groups will require some mechanism for resolving cross-family priesthood questions. Outside a family, a man does not get an automatic recognition to perform an ordinance or render priestly service. The means for recognition of a man's right to serve was provided in Mesa. No fellowship automatically respects any man's claim. Approval will need to be given. Unlike present methods, in these fellowships since only men will have recognized priesthood, they will receive approval to perform by the sustaining by at least seven women. Once this has been done, the combined groups of multi-family fellowships have the means to continue to perpetuate religious service, perform unifying ordinances and worship God together.

At this point I think of the early experiences Joseph Smith had. There was an outstanding, well educated, and politically astute man who helped negotiate the Nauvoo Charter through the Illinois Legislature. He impressed everyone. He was admired, trusted and immediately accepted by the Saints. Joseph added him to the First Presidency. He was elected the first Mayor of Nauvoo. He was the Major-General of the Nauvoo Legion. All of Nauvoo took pride in John C. Bennett and thought themselves blessed by having a man of his stature among them.

His meteoric rise ended in May 1842 when he was excommunicated for adultery. In addition to adultery, he was suspected of polygamy, homosexuality, and performing abortions. The abortions were part of the underground practice of polygamy, terminating unwanted pregnancies to prevent public notice of these sexual improprieties. Joseph Smith learned of these underground sex rings as he presided over Nauvoo High Council proceedings. He was later accused by some of the participants of having approved it in the first (and only) edition of the Nauvoo Expositor.

I also think of the earlier ambitious and enthusiastic Mormon converts who shone brightly for a brief season, then turned cold and dark. Kirtland itself rose in spiritual splendor and promise, only a few years later to drive Joseph and Sidney away under the cover of dark, while a mob gave chase for 200 miles. Kirtland became a community-wide failure.

What has changed? How have we become so much better than they? It is because we have abandoned communitarian ideals and are now stratified into economic divisions, educational divisions, hierarchical divisions, and the "haves" take their status for granted while the "have nots" accept their fate while awaiting a glorious afterlife? Is it because we have pseudo-stability? We have an accepted status quo? Is it because we tolerate a disparate society and that is proof we live in peace?

But one heart? One mind? Living in righteousness? No poor among us?

We are no better than Kirtland, and may be a lot worse. There are just as many Wilson Laws, John C. Bennetts, Chauncey Higbees, William Marks and Ezra Booths among us today as during Joseph's time. Our pride and haughtiness is just as fractioning now as you will find in any generation among any people. We will have to LEARN to be one. Such a distant and guarded mountain peak seems unlikely for us to scale. (At least without considerable individual Divine assistance.)

We have a chance, but only a chance. Required work begins among the people who are the very closest to you - your own family. There you begin to develop the skill to work out interpersonal conflict and resolve turmoil. These are the people you are closest to and should have the greatest willingness to compromise with to problem solve.

We grow incrementally. We develop in stages. We learn skills then use them to solve greater problems using the same skill set we learned through experience.

There may be some great, towering lights who do not need to develop skills at problem solving and who are ready to found Zion today. If so, they should do so. Let us all stand back and admire them. Surely they have much to show the world. Many of these self-proclaiming great ones never sacrifice their name by stepping forward and letting themselves be identified, their reputation attacked, their motives questioned, and their church membership threatened or lost. As the Lectures on Faith inform us, without sacrifice we have no faith, for faith comes by sacrifice and in no other way. Read the Lectures on Faith.

The lecture in Mesa drove many people away and will continue to do so. That is a good thing. Those leaving will not make the required sacrifice, and therefore will not develop faith. They will not be able to gather. God will not allow it.

The lecture, parts 1 through 10, give us the means to develop incrementally. It was to help those who, like me, are not part of the great, towering nobility needing no refinement. It allows me and my fellow poor, lame, blind, and deaf associates (D&C 58: 11) a chance to grow as we struggle to overcome our weaknesses and many shortcomings. I need to work on a great deal. To me, it does not seem easy.

There will be imposters. They will be exposed so they can repent, or they will be sent away. There will be those who are cruel, proud and unkind. They need the opportunity to overcome their character flaws. If they refuse to reform, eventually they will stop associating with us and we with them. Malignant hearts are not easily concealed. Ambition and pride destroy, not build, communities.

I have had high hopes in the past for some seekers I have met. People who have made strong, favorable impressions, at first. A few years later, some of these people I had high regard for prove themselves proud, controlling, dictatorial and unworthy.

Similarly, I have seen some who did not stand out at first but who, over time, have proven themselves godly, self-sacrificing and brave. Time and experience change people. Even now some who are "great" stand in peril before God and may fall. Those who exalt themselves have never been candidates for Zion. Gradually, by degrees, we will see maturity, repentance, kindness and even charity become part of these communities.

The great ones who can bypass such effort should do it now, if they can. They should be the shining example so we can learn. They ought to point the way and let us admire their greatness. Show us Utopia, ye noble and great! I won't ask to be permitted to come in, I only want to admire your accomplishment in the hope I may learn from you.

As for the residue, where I believe I remain, I hope to work out my own development with fear and trembling before God. One day I hope to be gathered. If that day comes, I hope to present no threat to the community because of ambition or pride. I hope to come already disposed to be of one heart and mind with them, having made enough sacrifices along the way to crawl in upon my knees as one of the least. I hope to have developed the skill to be an adept problem solver and an aid to my fellow saint by practicing the things I learned in Mesa in the ways suggested there.

When there is a gathering, I do not think the people invited will believe they are better than others. I doubt very much they will think they have accomplished anything extraordinary. Instead they will marvel at how simple it was to work it out peacefully beforehand, and wonder why mankind has not lived in peace continually since the fall of Adam. Zion will not be proud of itself, because it cannot.

Small choices change destinies. Those who gather before skills have been refined, and before the proud, learned, noble and rich have left, will produce nothing other than Kirtland, Jackson County, Nauvoo and Salt Lake. People need to be driven away, and people need to be refined. This happens simultaneously. It is for a good and wise purpose.

I gave a talk about Zion years ago. In it, I took note that the description in 4 Nephi of the Nephite generations of peace following Christ's visit included three levels of harmony:

One Level:
"there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another." (4 Ne. 1: 2)
A Second Level:
"And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land;" (4 Ne. 1: 13)
A Third Level:
"there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people." (4 Ne. 1: 15).

I think this pattern will need to be repeated. We will not get to a third level of harmony among us unless we first work out and resolve contentions in our families, and then in fellowship groups before we have the ability to do so as a gathered community. Zion must have
-one heart
-one mind
-dwell in righteousness, and
-no poor among them.

If that is not us then we are not Zion.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Questions?

From an email I received. This is an exchange between third-parties. 

I've attended many of the ten lectures and I've listened to all of them. I was at the Phoenix lecture. At the conclusion of the lecture, different people had different understandings of what was communicated, what was to be done, and what they were to do. It is interesting to see all the discussion online and in the social media about what "Denver said." Some of what I've seen is a reasonable, fair summary. Some summaries are downright wrong and could only be spread with malicious intent to confuse or deceive others. Reading either fair or unfair summaries lead to poor understanding. 

Most people interested in these things are familiar with Mormon investigators who tell the missionaries or members that they heard X, Y, or Z about the Book of Mormon  and the Mormon church from their pastor. The typical response is to encourage the investigator to read the book themselves and to make up their own decision and ask God for wisdom over the matter. I think the same thing applied here. 

If anyone is curious about what was said in Phoenix, they should listen to, or preferably read, all ten parts of the one talk that culminated in Phoenix. 
____________________________

I'm getting a lot of questions. I will not be answering. So far as I know, I have completed everything asked of me concerning those talks. Until asked to do something else, I wait on the Lord, and will only proceed when told to do so.

If you re-read the earlier 9/10ths of the talk you will find there are answers to be found there. Let me refer you to the Orem talk on priesthood. In the beginning there was one priesthood, not three divisions. That same priesthood which was in the beginning will be in the end of the world, also. Read the talk.

If I were ordaining anyone to any priesthood today as part of a community, I would ordain them to "the Holy Order" and leave it to God and the angels to decide how far the individual is permitted to progress in their association with the Powers of Heaven.

When the high priesthood was first restored in the June 1831 conference, those ordained failed. (I have already given an account of this in the post on August 19, 2014 titled "Laying On Hands.") Later that year, in a conference held in October 1831, another group was ordained to high priesthood. They likewise failed.

Joseph was undeterred by the persistent failures. He believed anyone could rise up if they were taught how. Joseph believed it was ignorance that damned us and a man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. Boise lecture.

Rather than throw his hands up at the failure, he set to work compiling a series of lectures to be given to these prospective "prophets" in a School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio. By 1835, he carefully edited the lectures to print them for the entire church. The Lectures on Faith were the first part of the Doctrine and Covenants, published in 1835, and vouched for by Joseph Smith. This was the Idaho Falls lecture. The Lectures tell you what the religion was designed to accomplish. They were composed in an effort to get the early church to rise up and reclaim power from heaven. 

The failure to secure power in the priesthood was so complete, widespread and thorough that by 1921 The Lectures on Faith seemed only to mock the church. So a committee took them out of the scriptures. Idaho Falls.

There are many answers to the questions you may have because of the 10th lecture found in the previous 9. Read them.

The struggle, questions and dilemmas you face are good. Hopefully they will take you to God looking for answers. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mighty, Strong, Davidic

I have never claimed, in public or private, to be anything other than a weak and foolish man.

The notion that I think I am anything other than that repulses me.

For years I have said that until someone actually accomplishes something, they have no right to claim they are something great or wonderful, that they fulfill prophecy, or are God's chosen anything.

Nobody has accomplished anything since Joseph Smith. There is a great hill to climb. Until someone climbs it and serves to guide others, we are left with pretenders, ego-maniacs, fools, impostors and villains.

Something is underway. Nothing has been accomplished. You need to participate. Starting a project, and getting 1% of it accomplished, and then claiming you are a "great" anything is not just a mistake, but it takes the eye off of the unfinished project - a very difficult project. Getting to your own 2 yard line still leaves 98 yards to go.

Without the refining of a transition phase, we will be utterly unprepared. But the refinement itself will be very hard, and there will be many who fail.

If a few succeed, then those can be gathered. Once gathered, there is still work to be done. Those who believe we can take a giant step do not comprehend how natural the evolution of God's work is. It requires effort every day, and will require as much of latter-day Zion as was required for Enoch and Melchizedek. It's difficult to imagine how much needs to be left behind and how much needs to be added.

If you think I'm something great and important, you miss altogether what is YOUR responsibility. The restoration belongs to YOU. No one is going to invoke a magic spell and spare you the development, maturity, selflessness, patience, growth and determination needed to be part of a healthy, functioning society worthy of the presence of God and angels. It is They (God and angels) whose company we seek. Not mine.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Phoenix/Mesa Transcript

The Phoenix/Mesa transcript is up on Scribd. Also, I fixed the link for the St. George lecture. You can find links for them on the right hand side of the blog under DS talks.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tuesday Lecture

The final lecture will be on Tuesday beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Mesa. The time is local, which in Mesa is Mountain Standard.

Each of the lectures make sense as a "stand alone" but the final installment assumes anyone attending will be familiar with the content of the nine prior talks.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

September 9 Lecture Location

Date:    Sept. 9, 2014
Time:    9:30 AM
Place:    Hilton Phoenix/Mesa
            1011 West Holmes Ave
            Mesa, AZ  85210

Seats 700 plus
60 Fwy and Alma School Road

PLEASE NOTE THAT ARIZONA DOES NOT HAVE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS. THE TIME IS ALWAYS LOCAL AT EVERY LOCATION.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Phoenix Venue UPDATE

We lost the first announced location in Phoenix because, as Doug informed me:

"Due to threats, nasty phone calls & emails, Rockin R Ranch has cancelled the venue. Will get another. Ward & stake people threatened to boycott the business if they allowed the talk at their place. Phone calls with the same thing."

We now have a replacement and will be signing the agreement later today. When it is locked down we will announce it here.

For those who made suggestions for replacement locations, we appreciate it. And we bear no animosity for the Rockin R Ranch and hope they are not discomforted by anyone who was disappointed by their refusal to allow the talk to happen there.