Thursday, August 5, 2010

Trivial Pursuit

I got a question which I'm going to interrupt and answer.  The question included the following:

[After describing some personal stuff that's mentioned in passing on the blog, it continues] "they are things that I would have steered away from because I truly believed that is what would please the Lord...I am seriously asking myself what is it that I am not understanding. I thought I was being obedient to what the Lord would want me to be doing. But am I actually like a Pharisee about these things? Are they not as important as I make them? Does the Lord really not care that I try to be really careful about what I see or listen do...even though I am doing it because I believed it to be offensive to MY spirit and THE spirit? Are these important things? Are you trying to give us a message to open our eyes that we get caught up in the wrong things?"

First, I have tried to be invisible in what I write, other than to point out failings. I think the only things about myself which are important are: 1) flaws; 2) my witness of Christ. Everything else is distracting and moving focus from the real subject (Jesus Christ and His teachings), to a distraction and non-issue (myself).

In The Second Comforter I mention what I called the "Pharisee Phase" in which the endless rules of conduct are followed by a Latter-day Saint in an attempt to be good.  I've said this was useful and probably everyone goes through it. But it isn't going to work.

Most of the stuff we concern ourselves with is meaningless and time wasting. What matters are the principles and ordinances of the Gospel; and more important still, the underlying charity or pure love of Christ. Everything is attempting to get you to love your fellow man. Not in the sappy sentimental way we associate with "loving" someone.  Because sometimes the most charitable thing you can do is rebuke someone, as we see from Nephi. Sometimes a sharp word comes from being moved upon by the Holy Ghost. (D&C 121: 43.) But in the end the person rebuked should still feel they are loved and the reason for the rebuke was the concern held for them.

I know the church advises against R-rated movies. I think that's good advice. But there are some movies that are important works, but have an R-rating. Schindler's List was rated R. So was Braveheart. We are related to Robert the Bruce, and this movie has been seen by my children as part of understanding what it means to descend from the Scotts.  My father landed on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944. Saving Private Ryan is, for me, a personal story about what my father went through. I have watched it and own a copy of it, and my children have seen it in an attempt to have them understand their grandfather's sacrifices. So I do not always follow that advice given us. But others may, and I have respect for them. Your question said you "believe it to be offensive to your spirit" which is so important a statement that I would always defer to your decision on such matters. It simply is not my place to tell you to do something which offends your spirit. You should trust it as a guide.

Paul's teachings in Romans Chapter 14 (which I posted about earlier), is the only way we can become "one" as a people.  I respect your motivation more than your actions, because they are pure. But we err when we judge another's actions and attribute to them motive. Pure motive cannot be known by observing actions. If we could judge motive from acts, then we would condemn Nephi for murdering Laban and stealing the brass plates. We would condemn Abraham for lying about the status of his wife Sarah, claiming her to be a sister. We would condemn Jesus for violating a clearly understood teaching about the Sabbath and not doing any labor upon the Sabbath. We would be wrong. Nephi was constrained to implement God's judgment, Abraham was acting on the direction of the Lord, and Jesus was honoring the Sabbath by keeping it holy, even if that came at the expense of performing labor.

We are told to refrain from judging one another precisely because we cannot judge motive from actions.

I would rather laugh than be stern. In fact, when Joseph refers to his "native cheery temperament" I would go a little further. I am prone to sarcasm and irreverence, because Mark Twain influenced my sense of humor while a child and I've never recovered. To me most of our problems are so stupid they compel us to mock them. But people wouldn't understand that if I adopted that approach, so I do not. When, however, I see Elijah mocking the priests of Baal and I identify with Elijah's conduct in that undignified scene. (1 Kings 18: 27.) But most people would find that troubling and mistake the conduct and misjudge motive. 

The Lord was gregarious, but we've turned Him into a caricature. The leaders of the church have themselves become imprisoned by an image which requires them to be holy from birth and never stray from a sort of "plastic-fantastic" single, dimensional, cardboard persona. Inside this trap you see them living as if on constant display (which they are), wearing the uniform of a white shirt, dark suit and power tie to see a movie, (should they ever attend a movie). The Saints want it, the Brethren deliver, and everyone moves about judging motive from conduct when it is utter rubbish.

Don't think I am important or spend any time trying to understand me. It is less than worthless, it is a distraction. I'm simply not important. About me there are only two things which matter: 1) I am flawed and error prone and anything but perfect. I watch inappropriate movies, laugh out loud at stupidity, have a highly acute bullshit-detector and tend to use it at the wrong times. I do not seek for, nor want anyone's admiration. It would be better for me if people readily accepted that my errors are many, and therefore, they ought not depend upon me. They will more quickly look to the Lord if they do not look to me. 2)  I have seen the Lord and He has ministered to me.  The details are only set forth to the extent I have been required to set them forth. They appear in 9 words in The Second Comforter, and in two chapters in Come, Let Us Adore Him. I can tell you that when I said on this blog: "I have never won an argument with the Lord" that I was referring to what appears in Come, Let Us Adore Him. Long before anyone leveled any criticism at me for publishing something which I should have kept to myself, I made the same (and better) arguments with the Lord against putting it into print. He has "strong reasoning" which I am unable to overcome. (D&C 45: 10.) I am no volunteer. I do as I am required. And I understand Joseph's comment that if he hadn't lived it he wouldn't have believed it. I doubt I would believe me if I were anyone else. What I have written is, nevertheless, true.


  1. Bless you, broheme. I, too, am related to Robert the Bruce and Braveheart is my second favorite movie, right after Babe. (Yes, the pig movie.)

    I've sometimes wondered why LDSs "need" to have perfect leaders. Some people really freak out if someone is suddenly not perfect anymore. I don't mean big heinous stuff like sex with kids - but like the rated R movie or the Applebee's Carside To Go on Sunday. I just never got hung up on that stuff.

    I guess we all have our distinct personalities, weaknesses and strengths.


  2. Well, I believe you. Without the books you have been required to write I might have never considered or understood some things. I never would have known about the book "The Words of Joseph Smith." The stories of your failings and weakness spur me on to keep going despite my own. All I see is good in all that you have done in your books and your teachings on this blog. I am grateful that you have presented all of this in a way that does not make me want to "follow" YOU, but Christ. It is all is all good.

  3. Thank you, Brother Snuffer, for answering in clear terms the question I have wondered about since I read the first few pages of your first book. If this had not occurred; then the book would have made no sense. I guess I missed the one book that would have answered my question earlier.

  4. Denver:

    Your ministry is having its effects. In my own life it has caused me to see more clearly the "false, vain and foolish" traditions which have blinded me (us). It has clarified much doctrine. It has allowed greater faith to develop in the promises of the Lord. And finally, it has helped me to feel more acutely, the jeopardy which I am in.

    It has not given me the ability to see angels, perform miracles, or enjoy the gifts of the spirit in abundance. I lament that I cannot seem to get any traction on the path, only inching forward. I'd like to break out in a full run. What to do? When others have asked similar questions, your answer has been to point out Joseph's directive to 'sacrifice all things'. How could one sacrifice all things? What would that look like?


    PS: Thank you for the efforts of your ministry to us.

  5. Powerful.

    Your writing is a daily reminder of who we should turn to. I'm grateful for your willingness.

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  7. Since when are we supposed to let our spirits be our guide? I thought we were suppose to take THE Holy Spirit as our guide. I don't feel comfortable saying, 'you avoid whatever offends your spirit and I'll avoid whatever offends my spirit and we'll all be happy in our relative worlds.' Can't we just call good good and evil evil? My understanding was that if I obey the commandments, THE Spirit will abide in me. And if that same spirit abides in you, than whatever is sinful will be offensive to both you and I. And I know that it's impossible for us all to be on the same page at the same time (that's why we need to be patient with each other and withhold judgment), but aren't we all supposed to 'shake at the appearance of evil'? I chose not to see Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan, not because they were rated R, but because it was obvious that those movies would be extremely violent. It sounded like they were otherwise excellent films, but I detest those particular tools that Satan commonly uses to trap people: poisoning by degrees and using something beautiful to deliver a small but potent dose of sin that would harm any spirit. What am I missing here? Isn't 'badass' a bad word? I mean I won't judge you for saying it, but shouldn't we ought NOT to say it? Am I being a Pharisee here? I'm confused.

  8. Your own spirit should be connected to and enlightened by the Light of Christ, given to all men/women. That is your conscience. It is an important first line of deciding right and wrong. You ignore it and you risk searing your conscience. So following your own internal compass is something I would advise.

    Those movies would be extremely violent. So was Mormon's life. Between the carnage and cannibalism, rape and murder, unrelenting genocide and end of his culture, his life was filled with horror. Yet he was the one who abridged the Book of Mormon and provided us with this great religious masterpiece. Somehow the violence, rape and murder did not prevent him from being the Lord's primary prophet to preserve His primary scripture for our time.

    Words convey meaning. Sometimes the best tool in the lexicon to convey a meaning requires one word, sometimes another. The best translation of some of John the Baptist's remarks would be of questionable civility; nevertheless altogether appropriate.

  9. Denver,

    Thank you for answering my long detailed personal question. I just got back from being out of town and was surprised, but so grateful to see you took a whole blog entry to try and help me and others like me to better understand our own individual quest to know the Lord. You addressed so many issues that were very valuable for me. I knew you would take the focus off of YOU and onto the Lord...being one so eager to learn the right path and be found walking on it...I needed the answers you gave to help me do that appropriately.

    When I read The Second Comforter 4 years ago, to this exact month, I KNEW then through the Holy Ghost that you were telling the truth. Every fruit that has entered into my life as a consequence of that book has been sweet and delicious and drawn me nearer to the Lord.
    I had the same experience with Come, Let Us Adore Him.

    I'm actually relieved to know one can have a sense of humor like you and still be okay in the eyes of the Lord. That gives my husband and I a little breathing room! Whew! By the way, I had to chuckle at your use of the R-rated movie example.Being one who RARELY watches ANY movies..I admit that I too eventually saw the value in Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. It took me years after they were released before I could get passed the "rule" and my perception of complete actually be able to see the spirit of the principle being taught by the R-rated rule. I would rather see a movie like those with a moral, historical and uplifting message...rather than see the PG-13's and PG's that charade as entertainment, yet are justified by some as they technically still "fit the rule"...I just used my clearplay machine as my excuse! Ha, Ha. (I even own two of them now).

    Thank you again for obeying the Lord and LOSING THE ARGUMENT. We are ALL being blessed as a consequence and have been given an internal awakening to rise up and seek after the Lord.

    (I'll sign this anonymous, even though I gave my name in the other)

  10. Can someone tell me where in his book, Denver talks about the "Pharisee Phase?" I'm afraid I'm stuck in that rut and I'm sure Denver gives suggestions on how to move out of that phase in his book. I just don't know where to find it?

  11. Anon

    Page 304. Last paragraph of chapter on Keeping the Commandments (Reprised). That paragraph and the next chapter may address what you're looking for.

    Although I have to say I've often happened across very helpful parts of the book when I had originally opened it to remember something else. The side tracks are often enjoyable.

  12. Now there is a difference in ministering and administering? What about the latter? Or can you share that? If my own church prevents me from living and conforming to all the truths and ways of the gospel... which blessings can only flow by obeying the laws/rights/priveledges... what then?

  13. "I have seen the Lord and He has ministered to me."

    That sounds like something which would come from the lips of a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ - one of the twelve. Of course, anyone who has had such an audience qualifies for the title of special witness, I presume.

    It saddens me that I have never heard one of the 12 so testify. Of course, I may have simply missed it.

    I am glad that there are those who do so testify.


  14. Steve, is it possible those special witnesses of Christ have been commanded to bear testimony of Him while not revealing some personal sacred details? In Denver's case, as I understand his writings, he has said he was commanded to reveal that the Savior had ministered to him... for a purpose.... while at the same time not revealing sacred details?

    The Spirit will reveal the truth.

    That's how I see it.

    btw, I do not worship the arm of flesh .... It is our Father, and His son Christ in whom I put my trust. I still see the 12 and the first presidency as 15 clear stone/lights.... similar to the 16 (15+1) small stones touched by the finger of the Lord to light the Jaradite barges as they crossed the great seas. It could be another of my odd notions, however, I also see parallels between these 15 lights (12+3) and the "fifteen other fixed planets or stars" mentioned in facsimile 2 figure 5 (as always the spirit must be our guide--btw, are there constellations with 15 stars?):

    Fig. 5. Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob.

  15. Anything is possible. To me it just doesn't match the pattern of apostles and prophets past.

  16. I agree with Steve, when an Apostle or Prophet from the past has seen the Lord, they tend to say so. Even if it's in vague, simple, words.

    At least that is my experience in reading and studying their words.

    I wonder if the correlation comittee nowdays would correlate such words and phrases out. Or maybe they already do.


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