Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Watch the Mormon seminary curriculum transform before your very eyes!

If you’re an LDS seminary teacher, it has been a strange couple of days.

On Thursday you woke up to a world in which the “Prophets and Revelation” lesson of the seminary curriculum was fairly predictable.* Somewhat disturbing, sure, but predictable. Disturbing because it contained a few questionable elements:

  • A section in which students are taught that “as the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ continues to lead and direct His Church through His prophets and apostles. He reveals laws for all of God’s children and guides His Church through these ordained servants. God’s laws include doctrine, principles, commandments, ordinances, and covenants, as well as Church policies and practices He reveals through His prophets.” It’s the “as well as Church policies and practices” phrase that has been the major sticking point as people have complained about the new curriculum over the summer—namely, that it seems to uphold Mormonism’s racial ban on African Americans from holding the priesthood and attending the temple as a policy that was personally revealed by Jesus Christ. This statement was followed by an activity in which students were told to sort various examples of eternal laws (which do not change) from Church management and policy (which may change, but only by “the Lord’s prophets” as they “counsel together and seek guidance from the Lord”).

Thursday version with 7 options

  • A recent statement from President Russell M. Nelson that declares last year’s leaked policy barring children of same-sex marriage from baptism to have been a full-on revelation from the Lord, received through President Thomas S. Monson and confirmed spiritually by every member of the Quorum of the Twelve. (See here for a post about Elder Nelson’s speech from January of this year.)

Thursday Russell M Nelson quote

  • A role-playing scenario in which a seminary student was asked to defend prophetic revelation from a pesky leftist uncle at a family meal who says that examples such as blacks receiving the priesthood or polygamy being abandoned demonstrate that the Church has sometimes caved to social pressure when its previous stance has put it too far out of the mainstream. (To be fair, the curriculum did not explicitly tell the students how to tell the uncle off; it instead pointed them toward the original texts of those official declarations and, quite helpfully, invited them to make up their own minds.)

So if you were a seminary teacher, that’s where you were on Thursday: trying to figure out whether the lesson was suggesting that the racial priesthood/temple ban was actually God’s will, and wondering how to teach sixteen-year-olds to guard against the mealtime encroachments of secular humanism.

Then yesterday, on Friday morning, it all changed. An altered version of the lesson replaced the one from June. The sorting exercise was gone. The mention of blacks and the priesthood was gone. The quote from Russell M. Nelson entrenching the LGBT policy as revelation was gone. And the uncle? History. The lesson was cut from nine pages to about five, and people started buzzing online about what great news this was. I was thrilled to hear about it too.

And then it changed again yesterday afternoon. The next iteration was an eight-page hybrid, but mostly like the first version in that it restored Elder Nelson’s long quote, brought back the “Is it an eternal law or is it a policy?” game show, and reinstated the uncle at the dinner table.

The Church curriculum giveth, the Church curriculum taketh away.

But there was still one very good change from the original. What was not there was all seven policy-or-eternal-law choices for the activity. The part about blacks and the priesthood had been deleted entirely:

Friday afternoon version with 6 options

So even though yesterday afternoon’s version brought back some troubling items, especially the quote from Elder Nelson, at least it didn’t perpetuate the idea that the racial ban was divinely inspired. That was something.

But wait . . . there’s more!

It appears as though last night or this morning, Version 4.0 was quietly posted up on the HTML site. It’s identical to yesterday morning’s version, the five-page lesson with all the controversial parts removed. So again: no blacks and the priesthood, no Elder Nelson, no weird uncle.

Is this a series of ordinary human errors — posting the wrong version, then trying to correct it? Is it reflective of serious internal discussions about whether the priesthood/temple ban was inspired by God or the byproduct of a very human racism?

And that’s where we are as of Saturday evening — with more questions than answers. I can only imagine the conversations that have occurred at Church HQ in the last 36 hours. I would speculate that there were numerous spontaneous exclamations of “Holy fetch!”

For a church that has for so long relied on an entirely obscure, anonymous process of curriculum creation, it must have felt like a PR nightmare to see these changes being played out and analyzed in real time.

Moreover, the changes appeared to be at least partly in response to social pressure and close public scrutiny. Maybe that uncle was right after all. But I hope, at least, that the fourth time was the charm.

Compare all four (well, three, really) versions by downloading them here:

* My thanks to a wonderful source who sent cached copies of all four versions to date and helped me ferret out the confusing timeline—much appreciated.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

244 Comments

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  • It’s great that the pesky Uncle has been stricken from the current .org version, but seminary teachers who rely on the printed manuals they were given at the start of the school year are stuck with my Uncle Oswald and Elder Nelson’s terrible quote. (Here in Ohio two weeks of seminary are in the history books already.) I’m holding judgement until my wife (a seminary teacher) goes to her next in-service meeting. If new lesson manuals are distributed I will applaud the changes. (No standing O or anything. They shouldn’t have made this mistake in the first place and, having made it, they’ve had since June to correct it.)

  • Hello from the pesky uncle who happens to be an atheist so frankly I look a little askew at all theists . Having said that I acknowledge religion has ……If you pardon the pun …done some godawful things ….it has also done some good, There are also some god awful passages in both the old and new statement and for the most part you don’t hear those passages on sunday . So cut the mormons some slack . They started out as a persecuted cult who were occasionally murderous in promoting a racist theocratic system . 150 years latter they are the type I would invite at least two over to have a beer with. If you invite one over you actually have to buy more beer than if there is two….I know you can figure that joke out. Anyway and I mean this sincerely by and large mormons are decent people always there to help community and family oriented so cut them some slack. How they want to …again pardon the pun…. whitewash their past is their business the important thing is they have moved past their racist origins and a change in curriculum is not proof of anything get back to me when they stop having black bishops or they start teaching being black is he mark of cain again

  • My wife and I have been called into The Bishop’s office a few times the past few months and asked why we are not coming to church very often and let our Temple recommends expire and not renewed them. We explained on both occasions how we disagreed with the decision the church made about children of same-sex couples not being able to partake the blessings of the church. He said to us last week you really think that the children same-sex couples would want to be Mormons.? That got my wife pretty upset. I explained in my blog post that the home I grew up in was not same-sex couple but it was violent and many things against church teachings but I was allowed to be an active member of the church. My blog Anotherface.org please read the section Apostate or Heathen there’s two sections that I wrote about growing up in the church. This new rule the church has made has broken my heart we do have a family member in a same sex marriage with a newborn child that will not be part of the church even if they or he chooses to. We have lost one my children and his family from the church because of this new doctrine.

  • A good deal of criticism is coming from practising church members, from non-practicing, or former Mormons. We’re more progressively minded and are anxious to see regressive policies and teachings changed because we believe they’re inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. The author of the post is a practicing Mormon herself.

  • Holy Fetch… I am that pesky leftist uncle they just excommunicated from the dinner table. I’ll just take my green jello and go play with it at the kids table. Wait til I try to explain to them what just happened and let them ponderize it for a few seconds. I’m happy finally because as the oldest male at that table I will be giving the blessing over our funeral potatoes from here on out. “Now Dear Children, sit back and enjoy as your crazy leftist uncle makes up a story that will rival the Book of Mormon, verily it will be even better than what your crazy leftist great uncle Joseph$ Myth did. And it came to pass… blah blah blah…. and in the name of the Heavenly Father amen.” Stop screwing with Gods one true and unchanging words or admit that it is not his words at all. Made up nonsense from self proclaimed Prophets is not verily different than what I’m doing at the kids table.

  • I have a solid testimony that Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. And, I can’t understand how anyone with the same testimony can believe the LDS leadership if following the Lord. When I was excommunicated I was told I was being put on trial for my testimony of Christ. When I used the Book of Mormon as my witness at trial I was told that was irrelevant. When my stake president bore false witness against me claiming that I worshiped Heavenly Mother I adamantly denied it. But there was one small thing I ignored. He asked me a question. He had commanded me to do something I was already doing. When he asked me if I was doing it because he told me to, I said no. I wasn’t. I was doing it because it was something I already did (read my scriptures and avoid impure thoughts). Why would that be a part of my trial? Because I didn’t have blind obedience to a man. I have blind obedience to the Lord. I felt like Joseph Smith. How dare I put God first in my life? Yet every time I read one of these articles I’m reading about people just waiting to be kicked out for doing just that. The Lord told Joseph Smith in numerous revelations that those with a desire to serve are called, yet the women the Lord has called must reject God in favor of man made policies. Smith gave women and “blacks” the priesthood yet men took it away without even checking with the Lord. I could go on but I won’t. At some point we we’ll be asked who we serve. I chose the Lord, even if that means I’m not wanted in the LDS church.

  • My wife and I just checked her manual. It turns out the printed version she received over the summer is the 5 page version.

  • I read the entirety of your article and noticed that you failed to point out that the lesson time was shortened considerably. The Understanding the Doctrine section was shortened from 50 minutes to 35 minutes, and the Practice Exercises from 45-60 minutes to only 30 – 40 minutes. It looks like many items were left out. If my math is correct, they had to decrease the lesson time by about a half hour.

    Do you think perhaps the Mormons are trying to change time as well? Perhaps there is a conspiracy among LDS church leaders to get students out of seminary early to wander the halls of high school and preach their religious doctrine to the masses. You should explore this theory in more detail. Seriously, this is just one more example of how people only tell half of a story to support their preconceived bias.

    Maybe instead of spending your time finding fault with others, you should try to improve yourself or serve someone else.

  • It seems to me that too many cooks spoil the soup. Can the Church do anything anymore that they don’t somehow screw up? How is this any different than the Boy Scouts PR debacle.

  • Very much like his own apostles, God himself appears to be getting on in years and having some difficulties with His cognition.

  • I’m editing my comment from yesterday just as quickly as the church edited versions. 🙂 As a current seminary teacher, I received a hard copy of V1 and it is identical to the latest version online. However, I never had access to version #2 until now, which does include the Q/A and quote. I think the discussion is a relevant one as to what is the difference between doctrine/policy, but the content in V2 was errant, which is probably why it was changed back to the original version. Happy to answer anyone’s questions on the curriculum.

  • Joel: Does the church still teach that the priesthood ban was inspired by God? How do you teach it to your students: as a theory, doctrine, policy, what?

    Thanks for your time.

  • Robert, good question. No, the church does not teach that it was inspired. There definitely have been apostles in the past who have had that apostolic opinion (JFS, McConkie, etc.), but the church does not hold to that. I teach my kids the history: that JS ordained blacks to the priesthood (ex. Elijah Abel), BY stopped that practice for a reason unknown (racism, misunderstanding?), that policy continued until the brethren were brave enough to ask the question “why”, and God answered their questions with Official Declaration #2.

  • Thx Joel. A couple responses. You call them “apostolic opinions.” How do you reconcile that position w/ The FP statement of 1949 that called it doctrine? Or Joseph Fielding, Bruce R and others who called it doctrine? When you say that Pres Kimball was brave enough to ask the question that led to the revelation, that’s good. But how do you reconcile that Hugh B Brown and McKay’s sons got Pres McKay to lift the ban in 1969, yet senior apostle Harold Lee and Joseph Fielding shut it down. Thx for your thoughts

  • Robert, great comments. The irony about statements from Joseph Fielding and Bruce R when it comes to what “Mormon Doctrine” really is is actually contradicted by McConkie himself. McConkie said a great quote on how to determine “doctrine” when he said, “The Standard Works are the standard of judgment and the measuring rod against which all doctrines and views are weighed, and it does not make one particle of difference whose views are involved (especially McConkie…I added that part :)). The scriptures always take precedence.” (BRM, An Open Letter Regarding “Finding Answers to Gospel Questions”). Bottom line: if not in scripture, it’s not doctrine! That was the problem with saying blacks can’t receive the priesthood-it was not supported by scripture. And the FP message and other hypotheses/theories by the brethren were never canonized as such. No one knows the origins of the prohibition, but McConkie himself had to apologize for his opinions and for past apostolic opinions (again, not part of scripture anywhere) when he stated: “We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years…. There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, ‘You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?’ All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and light line upon line and precept upon precept (2 Ne. 28:30; Isa. 28:9-10; D&C 98:11-12; 128:21). We have now added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter anymore. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject.” (August 18, 1978 talk , All Are Alike Unto God). So McConkie’s mea culpa acknowledged that there was no doctrine/scriptural basis to the position and that this policy could be changed. It’s interesting that you bring up HBL opposing President McKay. Everyone thought HBL would be president forever due to his “youth”, but he died quickly. I personally believe that perhaps he was not open to a revelation that needed to be given and God needed someone who would be brave enough to ask and not have too many “Lees/McConkies” in the way to oppose. Those are my two cents.

  • Interesting mental gymnastics. Many years in that gym has gotten you where you are. The thing that stands out the most to me is you actually believe in a god that KILLS people when they are in his way. I guess your god isn’t very good at influencing the people he allegedly chooses so he goes on a murdering spree until he gets what he wants. WTF??

  • Joel, the correct answer should be “the church does not teach that it was inspired ANYMORE.” Because it is very clear from the record that most (if not all) of the prophets and apostles from Brigham Young to Spencer Kimball thought it came from God and taught as much. The 1949 First Presidency Statement is evidence of that. No one considered that “apostolic opinion” in 1949. That’s just revisionist history. And could you please show me the official statement from the church that says the priesthood ban wasn’t inspired by God? I can’t seem to find that anywhere.

  • Joel, I also teach seminary (far from Utah) and we have never been given hard copies of the Doctrinal Mastery materials but have always been told to use the online versions. In fact, at our back-to-school inservice meeting with our CES coordinator last month, we were told that the program was “too new” to have printed materials. So the online versions that Jana has linked to have always been the official versions that we are expected to use. When they changed last week, our curriculum in North Carolina changed.

  • If you are a seminary teacher… why is there absolutely no verified EVIDENCE of Lamanite or Nephite civilizations anywhere in the America’s/planet? I thought their civilization numbered in the millions and they had a great battle in upstate NY on the hill Cumorrah? And why were we told Joseph translated the BoM from golden plates when he really used a seer stone in a hat. Why were we told that Joseph only introduced the idea of polygamy and did not practice it, when in fact he did. How do you keep up with all the lies, that are constantly changing? Do you really think the BoA was translated from the papyrus that Joseph acquired accurately, or was he just making up more tall tales?
    Sorry I’m calling BS on the whole church and all of it’s fluctuating drivel. “You obviously aren’t objective in your writing and fabricate your information. I hope you have been misled by a source, but you really should do a better job at checking those sources. Disappointed.”

  • Joel: I appreciate your detailed response. Let me respond to a few points you made.

    “The scriptures always take precedence.” (BRM, An Open Letter Regarding “Finding Answers to Gospel Questions”). Bottom line: if not in scripture, it’s not doctrine! That was the problem with saying blacks can’t receive the priesthood-it was not supported by scripture. And the FP message and other hypotheses/theories by the brethren were never canonized as such..”

    You’re trying to defend a very tough position here. The FP called it doctrine. The Q12 called it doctrine. And you’re calling the ban a hypothesis or theory??? That doesn’t square. Also, you’re omitting the main scriptural proof text that apostles used when they justified the priesthood ban: Abraham 1:26-27 (and sometimes the Book of Mormon). Further, consider the following: The First Presidency has stated time and time again that when they speak with a united voice it can be “considered the mind and will of God” (Teaching of Living Prophet Manual). Or Ezra Taft Benson: “The living prophet is more vital to us than the Standard Works” (Teaching of Ezra Taft Benson). With respect to these two statements, how do you reconcile past prophets’ teachings affirming the priesthood ban as doctrine?

    “No one knows the origins of the prohibition…”

    We do know the origins. If you read the “Race and Priesthood” document on LDS.org very carefully, you’ll see that the writers assert that the ban was rooted in the racial milieu of B. Young’s day. This unequivocally means that the ban was not divinely inspired.

    “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

    Latter-day Saints like to quote this statement to suggest that Elder McConkie was wrong in ALL that he said about blacks and the rationales for the priesthood ban. But if you read this very carefully he does not deny past rationales for the ban–only his earlier statement that blacks would not receive the priesthood in mortality. Another thing to consider is that Elder McConkie continued teaching that black people were cursed after the 1978 revelation and that their was a hierarchy of lineages–i.e., that God privileged white people over blacks. The 1979 edition of Mormon Doctrine reaffirms these points, as does his Messiah series and his New Witness for the Articles of Faith. In other words, Elder McConkie still defended the rationales for the ban, even after the ban was lifted.

    Thanks for offering your “two cents.” I appreciate the dialogue.

  • He doesn’t know. He is forced to spout out whatever the current corporate line is. He’s making it up as much as the apostles are. It’s like catching your child in a lie and then allowing the lies to continue to see how far they will go with it.

  • Apparently Joel is stumped. I’m still waiting for his eloquent reply. The mental gymnastics have been entertaining though!

  • If you teach your kids church history, how about a compare and contrast challenge on reading the CESletter.com and compare and contrast that with the churches “Gospel Topics Essays” ?

  • Robert, what I was saying about the origin is there is no revelation given by BY as to the ban nor an explanation/justification for it. Over time, it evolved from a priesthood ban, to a temple ban, etc. without a firsthand account of any revelation (because there wasn’t any, hence not doctrine of the church). The church’s statement in its latest essays support McConkie’s mea culpa by stating, “In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.” So the theories taken from obscure references in scripture did not constitute doctrine, although there were some authorities who incorrectly thought that was the case (and in GAS day, they also thought it dated back to JS times and earlier, which we know is not correct). Plain and simple. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the authorities started to question the origin and whether it was really doctrine or a policy that could be changed. Kudos to McKay/Kimball and others to question errant thoughts, like we all do and have done over our LDS lives. And this questioning of authority/apostles is not new in our days; it was done in Jesus’ day and before (ex. Paul correcting James’ false opinion on the 2nd coming; Paul correcting Peter on a revelation given; Peter having to have a special revelation given to understand what other apostles already knew, etc.). I know there are many who believe the prophets are inerrant, but that has never been the case. Simply put: the church admits they have made mistakes in the past, has stated the theories in the past for the ban are not scriptural/revelatory, and came out with doctrine in OD #2. (BTW, I won’t fully address the Benson’s 14 points talk you referenced. If you’re not aware, he was reprimanded by the prophet, SWK, for giving that talk. I’m at work right now, but can send you some info on that if you don’t have it…so definitely wasn’t speaking with one united voice during that talk.)

  • That or BYU wanted black football players and the church didn’t want to lose its tax exempt status. Maybe all the Brazilian converts wanted something more than second class status, like the women and gay members enjoy today. Probably more plausible answers.

  • There seems to be a pretty fundamental disconnect in this article and much of the discussion. Whatever the items, the questionnaire asks whether they are (A) part of “eternal laws (which do Not change)” or (B) part of laws of priesthood management and Church administration (which do change). Whichever list is used, Not all of those items are eternal laws which will never change! However, the questionnaire certainly does Not ask whether the policies/teachings in question were inspired or not !

    I suggest that inspiration/revelation can certainly include temporary management and administration (policies and procedures) as well as eternal principles and laws which do Not change. Much of inspiration includes the assurance of the Holy Ghost that the proposed decision is acceptable to the Lord — Not that it is perfect and will never change! For instance, I have experienced spiritual confirmation as I have sustained a number of different bishops in my lifetime. That does Not mean I expected them to be perfect or to serve forever! We are rarely, if ever, given all knowledge and perfected procedures at once by the Lord. We learn line by line and precept upon precept. Members of the LDS faith ascribe to the statement: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

    The restoration of the gospel is ongoing. As members, we should expect change from time to time both in terms of inspired adjustments and in terms of further understanding of eternal realities and principles. From statements by the Prophets, many of us expected a change in the policy regarding blacks and the priesthood before 1978 although we did Not know when it would occur. I have certainly seen a number of significant changes in LDS Church procedures in my 50 years of adult membership and a few changes and/or additions in what I had once thought to be doctrine. We are consistently encouraged to seek confirmation and understanding through the Holy Ghost as these changes occur.

    I see most all changes in the LDS Church coming because of inspiration/revelation and Not because of social pressures. The only real effect of social pressure is to encourage those who are called to make the specific decisions to ponder, perhaps from a different angle, and continue to seek inspiration/revelation. Thank you for reading my lengthy comment and considering my opinions!

  • That’s unfortunate. I too teach outside the Utah belt and our CES director got us hard copies because we don’t have seminary buildings so sometimes the internet doesn’t work where we teach. So we always have hard copies with us “just in case”. I would be very interested in what part of the curriculum changed.

  • Will do. Not much there for NT, but plan to in BoM and CH. This year we spent a couple days going over “The Godmakers” and contrasting that with the OT and current temple rituals. It was fun. You should come to my class someday. It’s not your typical seminary class.

  • Dear Wayne… bless you. You try so hard to reconcile that which is often confusing and occasionally wrong. If you start with the premise that no one is God’s Prophet, it will make it all easier and less verbose explaining. Blessings to you.

  • Doctrinal Mastery is part of the curriculum this year. And when the online version changed, the curriculum changed for those of us who have been asked to rely on the online version. I reviewed the material last summer and I downloaded it again last week when I was preparing to teach our first lesson on Doctrinal Mastery, and it had clearly changed. Your calling BS on Jana’s column was unwarranted, as is your suggestion that she fabricated her information.

  • Perhaps the best Biblical example of all this is the entire episode of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. The Ten Commandments were given as eternal laws, but most everything else that Moses did were acts of management and procedure. Both were directed by revelation and inspiration.

    Another very important point–we DON’T believe that only our latter-day prophets and apostles receive revelation and inspiration. This same great heavenly gift is available to every member who lives worthily and receptive to it. Such prime experiences include confirmation of both eternal laws and administrative actions, as well as direct personal revelation relating to one’s personal, family, and church choices and responsibilities. Is it any wonder that we seek so earnestly to proselyte, that this gift and blessing might be made available to others?

  • Actually, I’m pretty verbose on most topics. 🙂 It would be easier, in some ways, if I did not receive inspired confirmation about the LDS prophets, seers, and revelators, but my life would be significantly less rich and fulfilling. The easiest road is Not always the best road (see http://logictutorial.com/occam.html ).

  • So I’m assuming you think the ban on gay marriage/children or women not being considered equals is inspired? Was polygamy inspired or just a cop out for being caught with Fanny? Emma certainly didn’t see it as inspired.

  • Joel: Thanks again for the response. I’m afraid you’re trying to refashion something that the historical record doesn’t bear. You keep calling the priesthood and temple ban a theory or opinion, because that is what some in church leadership have called it today. But do you think for one moment that when George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark and David O. McKay signed the First Presidency statement of 1949 calling the ban doctrine founded on revelation–do you think that they were offering it as opinion or a theory? Here’s another example. Do you think that when the church’s foremost scriptural gurus — Joseph Fielding and Bruce R. — wrote Doctrines of Salvation and Mormon Doctrine (both books with the word “doctrine” in the title–do you suppose they thought it was their theory or opinion that the ban was a result of a divine curse? Again, you’re not offering a point that squares with the historical record. Perhaps a more interesting point in this discussion is this: Why does the church continue to call the temple and priesthood ban a theory when they know that their predecessors called it doctrine?

    Thanks for the reference to Kimball’s rebuke of Benson. I’m well aware that this happened. It’s true that Benson was seemingly alone in his view that “the living prophet was more important than the Standard Works.” But you didn’t quite address my first point, which is: When the First Presidency speaks it’s considered the mind and will of God. In 1949, they spoke. And they called the ban doctrine founded on revelation. How do you get around this? Of course, I’m not defending this position–only the notion that you and others continue to call the ban a theory or opinion. In a word, that position is not sustainable according to the canons of scholarship.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re not the “cookie cutter” type in the classroom!

  • Touche! Of course this wanders somewhat away from the topic under discussion. However:

    1. I certainly consider women my equal although we are biologically different in a few ways. So does the LDS faith (see https://www.lds.org/topics/joseph-smiths-teachings-about-priesthood-temple-and-women?lang=eng and https://www.lds.org/topics/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng and https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng ). They are Not ordained to specifics offices in the Holy Priesthood by they share in the blessings especially within the temple and temple ordinances. My wife and daughters are my equals and superior in significant ways.

    2. The ban on gay marriage within the LDS faith is consistent with my understanding of eternal principles and doctrine (see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage ). I do Not expect it to change, but if the Lord reveals to his prophets otherwise I would tend to view such a change as possible. I would seek personal confirmation and understanding if that ever happened.

    3. I consider the postponement of LDS baptism for children living in a same-sex marriage family to be wise and consistent with other current procedures in the LDS church. When it first appeared in the news, I patiently waited for clarification which came (see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/commentary-understanding-the-handbook including links). I have not sought personal confirmation since it already seemed the best of the difficult options.

    4. I am glad that we are no longer practicing plural marriage within the LDS faith. However, after considerable study, I have no doubts about plural marriage have been a practice revealed by God in the pioneer LDS church (see https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?lang=eng ).

    5. I believe that Joseph Smith was divinely directed to marry Fanny Alger although doing so led to many difficulties for all concerned (see https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng and from a well-respected by non-official LDS source* http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/common-questions/fanny-alger-2/ ). Polygamy was Not simply a cop out for Joseph Smith’s philandering (see* http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/history/joseph_smith_practice_polygamy/ and http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/theology/joseph-smiths-reasons/ ) and it was a difficult doctrine for nearly all who were called to live it (see* http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/theology/early_mormons_polygamy/#RevulsionWasAlmosttheUniversalReactiontoPluralMarriage ). Emma Smith certainly objected to Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger and other plural marriages entered into by her husband. For a time she seemed to understand and support it, but understandably, generally was unable to deal with this doctrine on a personal emotional level (See https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng , especially “Joseph and Emma.” See also* http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/common-questions/emma-smith-learns-of-plural-marriage/ . Note: There are other sources on early LDS polygamy, some of which I have read, but I consider these the “best” historical sources available on the internet.).

    Lots of good references for anyone truly seeking to understand. 😉

  • Robert, I 100% believe that people like GAS believed the ban was “doctrine.” In like manner, perhaps BY “reckoned” that Adam-God was doctrine (now known as theory), others believed in Moon-men, Zelph and other stories as doctrine (now known as crazy), James indoctrinated the people that Christ’s coming was soon (Paul put him in his place), Peter’s bigoted doctrine toward teaching the Gentiles (Paul corrected him), etc. Great, well-meaning people throughout history may have thought something was doctrine, but when you drill down on it, it ended up to be someone’s bias/theory. There is no revelation/scripture support for the position, so by definition it can’t be doctrine. That’s what I’m saying–people like McKay (in his older and wiser years) started searching and questioning since they had zero support for this supposed doctrine: no revelation, no scripture, nothing. By definition, McKay and SWK figured out smartly that this 1949 statement does not constitute doctrine. And instead of just voting on it to change that policy, the brethren thought better and wanted revelation to clearly define the doctrine once and for all, and put the question to rest of what the doctrine around priesthood for men. Hopefully that helps clear up historically why GAS and others incorrectly titled something as “doctrine” while DOM and SWK knew better.

  • Do you get enough credit within your church for all your ponderizing? Because you are good at it. Well answered… I love researching Mormonism… I will check many of those links out.

    My immediate knee jerk response would be.

    1. Will women ever assume the leadership in the church? Even Jesus is possibly assumed to have had a female apostle… Plus there was even a female Pope at one point. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Joan

    2.I’m a wedding photographer and at most non Mormon weddings people often choose 1st Corinthians. Faith Hope and Love but the GREATEST of these is LOVE. Right now the church is on the opposite track with it’s policy. And how does this square with the 12th particle of faith? So like most Mormons you would happily switch if the policy were to change… so much for eternal principles.

    3. I too am glad they can’t be indoctrinated into the faith that rejects their parents. I believe children should be exposed to many religions until age 18. Then the decision should be all theirs. Anything else I consider parental theological abuse.

    4. So God changes his mind. A lot apparently.

    5. It also was the primary reason he wasn’t able to fulfill his destiny… unless that is actually what happened. Being simply a run away from his flock, and justice, would not have served Joseph’$ Myth well. The Corporation of the President thanks him for coming back to Nauvoo.

    Aloha…Enjoy your Labor Day.

  • Grant, thanks for your posts and correction! I’ve admired your writings in the past, so I did a little more homework! I have a hard copy of V1, but I never had a copy of V2, which includes all the updates. So I was always working from V1 and never encountered all the Q/A, etc. until I just accessed a copy. (Some of us are more like Didymus than others.) Thanks for setting me straight! Personally, I wish they would actually keep that general dialogue in there, since that is essential for our youth to understand; but I agree that the examples and presentation of what is policy v doctrine may not have been the best.

  • Joel: I’m afraid it’s more nuanced and complicated than you present it. Spencer W. Kimball most certainly believed–and taught–that the priesthood ban was doctrine. His personal papers make that abundantly clear, as does his son. He inherited this “doctrine” from his predecessors, though he once admitted to his son that it might be “an error.” He supported his cousin Hugh B. Brown in 1969 when Brown lifted the ban (w/DOM’s support) when the doctrinal hardliners were away (only to reverse his position when Harold Lee returned). Then, the moment he became the church pres. in 1974, he wanted it changed, but he had a wall of opposition from hardliners like Mark Petersen, Ezra Taft Benson and Bruce McConkie. But the point is, even though he wanted to lift the ban from the get-go, he always believed that it was doctrine.

    David O. McKay, on the other hand, is more complicated. In 1954, just after he returned home from S. Africa, a nation rife with “mixed blood,” he commissioned a meeting of apostles to review the ban. At the same time McKay told U of U philosopher Sterling McMurrin that the ban was rooted in policy, not doctrine. It’s important to remember that just five years earlier McKay, then a counselor in the FP, signed the FP statement of 1949 calling it a doctrine founded on revelation. But in 1954, McKay, now church president, told McMurrin that the ban was a policy. What to make of this? Well, as the story goes, DOM wanted to lift the ban in the 1950s but he couldn’t: there was too much opposition in the Q12. In 1962, DOM was prepared to do it again. Through Hugh Brown it was conveyed to Lowell Bennion and others that a change was imminent. Then, in 1963, Brown told a reporter at the NYT that a change was forthcoming. Finally, by 1969, DOM threw caution to the winds and decided to ordain blacks to the priesthood. He was pressured by Brown and his own sons to do so. But when Harold Lee and Joseph Fielding got work of this they put a stop to it.

    The question is: If there was so much opposition to lifting the ban in the 1950s and 1960s, how did Kimball do it? Yes, Lee and Smith were now gone, but SWK still had to contend with the likes of ETB, MP, and BRM. How did he do it? A question for another day…

    PS: I agree with you that all the guys in Red Chairs know that the ban was taught as doctrine for a number of years. But that’s not what they’ve said over the course of the past decade. For a brief period, from about 2001-2006, some apostles like Jeff Holland characterized the ban as “folklore.” The church PR staff picked up on this theme and started calling the rationales for the ban folklore. Again, that position is not sustained by the historical record. Try telling McConkie that he was teaching folklore! Also, the “Race and Priestood” document calls the rationales for the ban “theories” or “opinions” of earlier leaders. Again, not supported by the record. The divine curse was thoroughly rooted in scripture, as was the less valiancy position.

  • Where in the curriculum do they disclose that sex-perv Joe the Smithee told other men’s wives that an angel of the Lard had appeared to him, and told him that if these other men’s wives didn’t marry Joe, the angel of the Lard would run Joe through with a sword? Where do they disclose that Joe the Smithee was caught in a complete fraud with his alleged “Book of Abraham” translation?

    What a bunch of idiots.

  • May I suggest a dry riesling while reading this? It makes all the bullshit by the apologist in this thread so much more palatable!

  • Joel, can you further clarify? The version online at this moment (which is hopefully not still changing) is quite different than “version 1” linked in the main story/the version that has been online for several months. Are you saying that the hard copy you received months ago is the version that does not include “Segment 5” (the 7 policy vs. doctrine questions) and also does not include the uncle? To phrase that differently, the hard copy you have is the same as version 2 and version 4 in the story, i.e. the version that first appeared online only a few days ago? Do I have that right? Had you by chance ever noticed that the online version was not the same as the hard copy you had?

  • Happy to…and this might explain my confusion as well. There is actually another version before the versions noted above. It is “Version 1, 3/16”. It is identical to the version shown above as “9.3.16”. That is what I got probably in May/June of this year in hard copy version. That version did not have any uncle stories or Q/A. Then the 6.16 version came out (which I didn’t have a hard copy of), which included those items. Then the out/in/out happened. So there are actually 5 versions, with the last one listed above actually being the first version (see the “9.3.16” PDF and it actually says Version 1) and the latest one on LDS.org which is shown as “Version 3, 9/16” which does not include those items. I know confusing, but hopefully that helps.

  • In spite of the endless attempts at appearing as an orderly church, the LDS god appears to be an “Author of confusion” now more than ever.

  • I believe it is right after the part where they tell you that after all their public relations drivel for the last 150 years. the strange fact that Joseph didn’t really use Golden tablets after all to translate the fairy tale Book of Mormon, he just stuck his head into a hat and let the rock make it up for him. How anyone takes this nonsense seriously after reading the Gospel Topics Essays they put out is mind boggling IMHO.

  • New doctrine? What new doctrine? New policy, yes. And a policy that is mandated by changing cultural standards, but no, the doctrines of the church have not changed.

  • The Catholic Church does not have any ambiguity regarding fallible and infallible proclomations. There have only been six infallible dogmas proclaimed in the last 2,000 years, and “policies and procedures” will never be part of the infallibility.

  • Homeron, No religion has the ability to change an eternal and divine law. We did not even need Jesus to come and reveal that homosexuality is a grave sin, because it is part of the eternal law, i.e.; “written on our hearts.” We can know what is wrong even without the Ten Commandments. It is just as Saint Paul said in Chapter 5 of Romans, that the actions were counted as sin, once the Ten Commandments were given, but not before. Before Moses, people were off the hook. God instead punished with the flood and there was no Redemption. But, now, with Jesus it isn’t about concentrating on the sin so much as it is about Mercy. Always talk about God’s Mercy first, to bring people to repent, not their sin.

  • There is a difference between Revelation and inspiration. Anyone can be inspired by the Holy Spirit, but Revelation closed after Christ Redeemed man. There is no new Revelation, only inspiration.

  • So if Jesus was here and speaking to children he would say to them ” blessed are you my children except you three your parents are gay so away” the children are not to be blimed for their parents sin or Adams transgression either !

  • You are correct I should have said policy just as Blacks and the priesthood was policy ???? I should have stated the church has a new policy that the 12 and the Prophet all received revelation about that. This new policy is wrong just as other policies in the past have been wrong as admitted in conference

  • But you are overlooking one BIG THING! It was once taught that it was an eternal doctrine that dark/black skin was a curse from God and that was the reason why they were entitled to the priesthood. Then God changes his mind conveniently after the Civil Rights Movement.

    These quotes are pure racism:

    2 Nephi 5:21:

    21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

    Alma 3:6:

    6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

    3 Nephi 2:14-16:

    14 And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;

    15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

    16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.

    But what did the “Race and the Priesthood” essay have to say about it?

    https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

    QUOTE: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

    You see, it changed with the times. Lots of church doctrines and what they used to teach are being disavowed. It’s happening right in front of your eyes. You just have to use your eyes.

  • Bear in mind that the LDS church is morally bankrupt. It all depends on who you are in the LDS church with regard to being ‘Gay’. Joseph Fielding Smith, the last church patriarch was gay, but that’s OK, he’s ‘Smith’.

  • As far as I understand the New Testament, Christ never said anything about an individuals sexuality.

  • In 1949, The First Presidency issued the following statement:
    “The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.” (The First Presidency on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949). That’s clearly a doctrinal, not a policy statement.

    Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency issued a statement in 1969 to try to clarify the issue, but it left a lot of questions: “From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.” It appears that to the early LDS leaders, it was doctrinal, not policy, but later leaders seemed frustrated with it, and could not or did not clearly state a scriptural reference (perhaps there was an unnamed deference to the precedent of Abraham 1: 26-27).

    I don’t know why later leaders would refer to it as “folklore.”

  • QUOTE: “Perhaps the best Biblical example of all this is the entire episode of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. The Ten Commandments were given as eternal laws”

    Do you really think the 10 Commandments are eternal? Let’s examine.

    Exodus 20:9-10:

    9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

    10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

    Do you realize that God is telling his people that slaves get the day off like everyone else should? Let’s take another look:

    Exodus 20:17:

    17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

    So, don’t covet your neighbor’s slaves?

    Of course there are many references to slavery in the Bible, even sex slavery:

    Exodus 21:7-11:

    7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

    8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

    9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

    10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

    11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

    Leviticus 25:44-46:

    44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

    45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

    46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

    There are other things wrong with the Bible along with Christianity in general which would include Mormonism. You just need to study it.

  • Did it ever occur to you that the LDS Church’s founder Joseph Smith was a fraud? If you believe in Joseph Smith, you believe that it is okay for men to marry other men’s wives. You believe that older grown up men can marry teenagers as young at 14.

    Joseph Smith found his “seer stone” in the yard of Willard Chase. He used that stone and people payed him in money to tell them where to find buried treasure. No treasure was found, so eventually he was put on trial for fraud. Then with that same seer stone that couldn’t find buried treasure, he “translated” the Book of Mormon. Except that he plagiarized much of it. Below is a link to a site that compare The Late War (published in 1816) to the Book of Mormon (published in 1830):

    http://wordtreefoundation.github.io/thelatewar/

    Would you also think that God would call a man that would start an illegal bank? Look up the Kirtland Safety Society.

    Smith was a con man and a sexual predator. Who in their right mind would send one of his apostles (Orson Hyde) on a mission to Jerusalem to dedicate the land. Then while he was gone, he marries his wife. Not the only time Smith sent a man on a mission so he could get alone time to do that.

  • Joel, are you saying that Brigham Young made a mistake? Along with the other prophets all the way up to Kimball? I find that interesting because of what Woodruff said:

    “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”

    -Wilford Woodruff

    LINK:
    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1?lang=eng

    So the church was led astray for about 130 years. Did God and/or Jesus care? Denying blacks the blessings of the priesthood and the temple? Really? Even though Woodruff said that Lord wouldn’t allow any of his prophets to do so or he would remove them? That sounds like a contradiction to me. If God would allow his prophets make that sort of a mistake even though we’re told he wouldn’t, what else are the prophets making mistakes about? The latest policy about gays and their children maybe?

    Are you aware of the essays? Since Blacks and the Priesthood is what I’m replying to, here is this one:

    https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

    I guess the problem now is the Book of Mormon itself. It still teaches racism. Meaning that dark skin is a curse from God:

    2 Nephi 5:21:

    21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

    Alma 3:6:

    6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

    But what happens when you repent?

    3 Nephi 2:14-16:

    14 And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;

    15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

    16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.

    So repenting makes your skin white? That is about as racist as it gets. The Book of Mormon, the foundation of the the Mormon religion is based on a racist book since it’s about the righteous white skinned Nephites against the cursed dark skinned Lamanites.

    By the church releasing that essay in December 2013 by saying:

    QUOTE: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

    The church is not only throwing past prophets like Brigham Young under the bus, but the Book of Mormon itself.

  • Tough question. It’s hard to prove a negative. If agnosticism were false, would an agnostic be able to detect it?

  • I think many L.D.S. don’t care about truth, they just want to feel good, and the church helps them feel good.

  • I’m not talking about the parents are okay I’m talking about the ridiculous decision not to let any child into the church his parents are gay and living together or married. Jesus would never judge the child whenever. This goes against all that the church teaches

  • But the church doesn’t say this is Doctrine or this is a policy or procedure. Is this change in the Bishop’s handbook Doctrine or policy or procedure.? What about polygamy is it Doctrine or policy ? because when Joseph Smith received the Revelation that was Doctrine but when the government scared the church it changed to policy? The church did not say if this is Doctrine talking about the change of the Bishops and book. I guess if it changes then it all the sudden becomes policy. If it’s not Doctrine let’s change it

  • You have misunderstood. The tablets were what he was translating. The rock and later the object known as the Urim and Thummim (seems to have been a breastplate with spectacles attached) were the instruments through which he accomplished this.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, homeron2000 ! I agree that the differences between doctrines, policies and procedures is sometime vague. Let me try to thoughtfully comment on your other questions:

    1. The new and everlasting covenant of marriage is a doctrine. Plural marriage for some is a doctrine that we are no longer authorized to live in this life (see D&C 132 at https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132?lang=eng#white . See also, from a non-Official but carefully researched and well referenced source, “Does Exaltation Require Polygamy?” at http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/common-questions/polygamy-and-exaltation/ ).

    2. The policy and practice of new plural marriages in this life ended through revelation in 1890 (See Official Declaration 1 at https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1?lang=eng ). The government prosecution of men practicing plural marriage, confiscation of church property, etc. certainly tried and tested the early members of the LDS faith (as did the practice itself), but it certainly did Not end, or even slow, the practice of polygamy (See “Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at “https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?lang=eng which contains 4 carefully researched and well referenced essays, especially the essay “The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage” at https://www.lds.org/topics/the-manifesto-and-the-end-of-plural-marriage?lang=eng . See also “To Provide a Customized Trial for the Saints of that Time and Place,” from a non-Official but carefully researched and well referenced source, at http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/theology/joseph-smiths-reasons/#ToProvideaCustomizedTrialfortheSaintsofthatTimeandPlace .). To reiterate: “The only real effect of social pressure is to encourage those who are called to make the specific decisions to ponder, perhaps from a different angle, and continue to seek inspiration/revelation.” The practice ended because of revelation to those called to receive it for the entire LDS church.

    3. Of course the LDS Church did Not say “this” (by which I think you mean the policy of not baptizing children living in same-sex marriage home until they are 18) is a doctrine. It is not. It is a policy with a set of procedures. There is reason to believe that it is an inspired policy for our current time, with perhaps a bit of flexibility [See “Understanding the Handbook” at http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/commentary-understanding-the-handbook and especially the link provided entitled “First Presidency Letter Clarifies Handbook Changes (November 13, 2015”). Also see the link provided in “Understanding the Handbook” to “President Nelson Explains Origins of the Handbook Change (January 10, 2016).].

    4. “We” are Not authorized to simply change “it.” This is a LDS Church wide policy set by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Any church-wide changes will come through that same source.

    Thanks again for raising these issues and taking the time to read and consider my lengthy response. 🙂

  • Agreed that anyone can be inspired by the Holy Spirit. But where you get the idea that revelation is closed is an old sectarian notion that is totally false. I know this because I myself have received revelations, as have most of the members of the LDS church. But as you likely cannot accept that, remember that Peter, Paul, etc. in the New Testament definitely received revelations after Christ’s Redemption.

  • According to the legend of Joseph’$ Myth. Please research your own churches actual history. He apparently used them during the initial 116 pages. After the first 116 pages were rightfully taken from this treasure seeker and philanderer to never be reproduced or seen again, he only used the rock in the hat method according to all the information I have read. I could be wrong but I’d appreciate references that haven’t been sanitized by the LDS Corp.if you can find them, and would like to refute me. SLC’s profits aren’t known for telling the truth.
    But quick question?
    If you were making up a fake religion do you think you could sell it by saying you stuck your head into a hat with a rock or that non-existent golden plates that nobody actually saw with their real eyes would help fleece the most people?

  • Interestingly Ephesians 1:17 reads “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (KJV). The Greek word being translated as “revelation,” apokalypsis is indeed the word normally translated as revelation in the Bible (see Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apokalypsis ).

  • Wayne that is a very good explanation about polygamy. I was actually kind of setting you up when I mention that because I didn’t know that it’s an eternal Doctrine and of course we still teach it and follow it to this day. Of course it’s behind Temple doors. But it is a Doctrine. I just don’t know how to answer a number of people in my family I lost a returned missionary son and his family because of this change and the Bishops handbook and I am having a deep Faith crisis because of this. I can guarantee you that Christ would not push the children aside if you was here and say go away your parents are gay I don’t want to talk to you and I don’t want you to be part of my church

  • Thank you for being so candid. When I first head of the change via a press release from John Dehlin, I too was concerned. However, I waited patiently to understand the context and see some clarity emerge.

    A number of years ago (early 1980s) I was quite bothered by the contents the “White Salamander” letter. I talked to my best friend, who happens to be a serious scholar of LDS doctrine and history. He listened carefully and provided some background on Martin Harris, the supposed author. He kindly encouraged me to be patient and watch. Of course it fairly quickly came out that the letter was the work of a pretty diabolical master forger. I have remembered and try to apply the lesson when I am bothered.

    Did you know that Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve has a close and loving relationship with his brother, Tom, who is gay? (see http://www.sltrib.com/blogs/1407735-155/christofferson-lds-family-gay-group-mormon and http://www.wheatandtares.org/19470/tom-christofferson-transcript/ ). Of course it was Elder Christofferson who first acted as spokesman for the Church after the story broke. As I considered his explanation, I though of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve with whom I have personally interacted: President Uchtdorf, Elder Oaks, Elder Holand, Elder Ballard, and Elder Anderson. Given what I have seen, heard and felt, I cannot even imagine these men being vindictive especially for more than a few moments.

    Did you know that virtually the same policy has applied for years to those living in polygamous families who then want to officially join the church? As I read the First Presidency letter of clarification, I clearly understood the reasons and wisdom of the policy, especially as I reflected on some of the situation I dealt which while serving as a bishop 4-9 years ago (see link to the First Presidency Clarification at https://www.lds.org/pages/church-handbook-changes?lang=eng ). What effect might such a policy have on when the Lord holds any of these specific children accountable for their actions?

    Of course the Lord would Not, and does Not, push these children aside! Neither should member of the LDS faith, some of whom need to do deep soul searching and repenting throughout this general area. The First Presidency Letter of Clarification reads: “All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love. They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities. All children may receive priesthood blessings of healing and spiritual guidance” (see the link to the First Presidency Clarification at https://www.lds.org/pages/church-handbook-changes?lang=eng . The official LDS website, http://mormonsandgays.org/ , says to members: 1) “But what is changing — and what needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.” 2) “No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle. Do we teach the Proclamation on the Family, do we teach Heavenly Father’s plan, do we teach the first chapter in the second handbook, yes we do. We have a plan of salvation. And having children come into our lives is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. But let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful … ” The Lord has always taught us to Love our Neighbor, our spiritual brother and sisters, and He lovingly holds us accountable to especially work at keeping this Great Commandment (See Matthew 5-7 and 1 Corinthians 13).

    In western civilization we tend to phrase questions, choices, and answers in terms of “either/or.” Either you are For Or Against the Church. Either you For Or Against gays. However, life is full of complexities and the gospel teaches that the life’s answer are fairly often on a continuum that includes “both” and/or “neither.” Is sin wrong? Should we therefore hate sinners? Does the atonement pay the price for sin and error? If so, why do we still need to repent?

    Moreover, I do Not minimize the emotional impact of this particular policy change in spite that the Church supported policy of a balance between LGBT and Religious rights in Utah. At the time of the policy implementation and even some still, I prays for those effected, especially those most directly effected and their families. I pray that the Lord will comfort them, strengthen them, and help them to come to understand. I pray the wisdom, sensitivity and inspiration of the Bishops that will deal with these situations.

    Finally, I sympathize with your pain over your son. Many of us have discouraged and disaffected sons and daughters. We continue to love them, probably with even greater feelings. They are also our Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters. Like the best of us, He will Not give up on them. Of this I testify!

    Again, thank you for your candor and trust. I am Not unfamiliar with those in faith crisis. Given the spelling of my last name, I am fairly easy to find including on Facebook. If I can possibly be of help, please do Not hesitate contact me.

  • Please see my blog at http://www.anotherface.org and read the two sections called the apostate or heathen. This will give you an idea where I’m coming from. Yes I do realize that his brother is gay and that’s probably the reason the church had him be the spokesman for this. The interview was set up with predetermined questions and answers. It was not actually a news interview in the real sense. Thank you for your time and check out the blog

  • People that have had encounters with deity don’t really have a way to prove it, nor do they need to for themselves. Whether or not they could prove the doctrine, scripture, or historicity of their religion, it wouldn’t change their self knowledge of the encounters.

  • Occam’s razor is the simplest conclusion, but not always correct. There is no way to rule out cognitive impairment for other people, but not true for oneself. In that way, yes, you can know for yourself if your religion deceives you.

  • Of course. It’s an organization of imperfect people. I grapple with that info regularly. But I’m more concerned about my personal faith than worrying about my religion.

  • Do you ever have concerns about non-faith, ie. what if there really is something else after this life, and are you missing out on something?

  • Beautifully stated! I am a gay man raised in the LDS church. I am no longer a member but still love the organization very much. What resonated with me from your answer above was the either/or message! It is so true. My family had shown me nothing but love and support. They do this while still living the principles and teachings of the Gospel! We don’t always completely understand our Father in Heaven’s reasons, but that is where faith comes in. I understand the church’s reasoning behind these policy changes in the context of the faith. While I worry about kids feeling different, left out, and resentful, my hope is that love will be extended so completely, that they will not feel these differences so acutely. After all, children usually act on feelings and not logic!

    I am not an either/or person. I am a gay man that still loves the LDS faith, even though I am not a member. Love is unconditional and that is why I can live my life and allow others to live theirs respectfully.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful, patient, and loving responses! I am truly grateful!

  • What made God think this “prophet system” was a good idea in the first place? Especially a god for whom the glory is supposedly intelligence?

    It requires people to believe what they’d be totally justified in rejecting; false prophets are easy to counterfeit; it’s easy for them to gain and manipulate followers; there’s no reliable way to distinguish a true prophet or revelation from a false one; and they make God look foolish and incompetent.

  • Actually, according to noted Morg idiot Dieter Van Brocklehoffmeisterbrau, Joe the Smithee’s magic rock was simply an early version of the I-phone. I’ve go milk squirting out my nose.

  • Simple answer: the latest version avoids any real controversies (although the supporting marriage part of the Proclamation is a statement about gay marriage) and the exercise still works to teach the teachers. But I can see if one’s income is tied to stirring up controversy about the LDS Church, then this is a BIG deal. Meh.

  • Jana: I don’t think it is fair or accurate to say that: “A recent statement from President Russell M. Nelson that declares last year’s leaked policy barring children of same-sex marriage from baptism to have been a full-on revelation from the Lord, received through President Thomas S. Monson and confirmed spiritually by every member of the Quorum of the Twelve. ”

    God does not reveal policy. God reveals doctrine. Imperfect people implement doctrine through policy. This policy was not only not a very good one, it was not ready to be published when it was unfairly leaked to the world. The changes that have been made to the manual reflect that reality, I think.

  • This one: Do you ever have concerns about non-faith, ie. what if there really is something else after this life, and are you missing out on something?

  • Ridiculous explanation quite honestly. The church pushes baptism hard to investigators of the church for what reason? Why, to receive the gift of the holy ghost of course. During a child’s formative years where they conceivably need the most guidance, the church has elected to strip a child of that privilege due to the actions of their parents. This makes no sense whatsoever. Bringing up the statute against polygamous children is a red herring and also not very Christlike. It’s clear to me that the Christ from the bible is not the one running this church. That said, i haven’t even taken into account the feelings of a child who be ostracized by this change. Do you really think a boy could turn 12 and continue to feel like a wanted member of the church while the rest of his friends are receiving the priesthood and fulfilling their duties? Even in a best case scenario where he is never made fun of or treated any differently by the rest of the children? If you are honest with yourself Wayne, you know that’s not the case.

  • Thanks for the answer. I agree that man’s fingerprints are all over religions of all types, because after all, we are human. Instead of looking for God’s fingerprints or his shadow (evidence), why not look for him directly? Have you ever wondered, though your body is going to die, does your essence live on, is it eternal, and what if this part of you is somehow the offspring of a being that is aware of you and cares about you?

  • A grave sin? People are born gay. How do I know? I am gay. I am guessing you believe you were born straight? Oh you were? Well guess what, I was not. It really is so simple. There are people born gay. SO you are saying that Gay folks are born Evil? That is just weird.

  • You obviously have not read the Bible! Sad to say, if you ever had a testimony of the restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith….it is far gone. Try reading Leviticus 18:22; “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” How about Romans 1:27 or 1 Timothy 1:10. It’s obvious you have a problem and so strike out against the Church to cover it up! Repent my friend, repent! The Savior doesn’t look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. The plan of salvation is for ALL of us and God’s laws are the same. Have a better day and study your scriptures!

  • I’m certain you have documented evidence; and, even if he did have same sex attraction he obeyed the Lord and never acted upon it.

  • So sad Dean that you believe such a lie. NO ONE is born with homosexual tendencies. Proven beyond doubt! We become what we want when we experiment with sex. One of my best friends had a large family, devoted wife and then was attracted to a feminine male friend and succumbed to his fleshly desires. Sadly, he didn’t repent and live as the Lord intended and in the way he knew he could. He’s now lost all of his eternal blessings……because of his excommunication and lack of commitment to the truths of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s just that simple!

  • Yes. Actually he said the Book of Mormon was translated from reformed Egyptian from some engraved plates. The Book of Abraham he said was from papyrus. It may be that the papyrus in question was not the actual one he used. Regardless, that one doesn’t pose a problem for me because I think he used it as a medium, not as a literal translation of the Egyptian text.

  • Thanks for raising the topic of Jeremy Runnells’ “CES Letter” which certainly purports to have “Answers.” The CES Letter has always been written and presented in an appealing format, even through its revisions. The Letter has every appearance of being researched based, However:

    1) I believe it is wise to consider multiple sources and viewpoints. Therefore, I encourage those interested to study the CES Letter (or at least a sampling thereof), and, to provide some balance, study http://en.fairmormon.org/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director (or at least compare specific topics sampled in the CES Letter). 😉

    2) My own careful review of the CES Letter’s statements about the quotations from the Bible within the Book of Mormon shows (from largely non-LDS sources) it’s representation of what good research indicates to be very inadequate. I can provide specifics if you like, but that would only take us further away from the topic of the article under discussion.

    I wish you well in all of your positive endeavors. 🙂

  • I’m certain I have documented evidence. Do you have documented evidence that Joseph Fielding Smith ‘obeyed the Lord and never acted upon it’ – being ‘Gay’ is not the problem, the ‘Sin’ is that the LDS leaders make allowance for a ‘Smith’ who was gay, and on the other hand condemn rank and file LDS members who are gay. Do your research like I have done my research.

  • I’ve seen the aforementioned biblical references you include as evidence against same sex relationships. Firstly, Leviticus 18: 22 – how do you know that the ‘Lord’ refers to Jesus Christ? There is no evidence at all that the ‘Lord’ as referenced in the Old Testament is referring to Jesus Christ. Secondly, Romans 1:27 is said to be the words of Paul, not Jesus Christ; thirdly in 1 Timothy 1:10 we read the words said to be written by Paul! the references you give condemning same sex relationship in the bible can not be claimed as coming from Jesus Christ! Where in the bible does JESUS CHRIST condemn same sex relationship? Jesus Christ never authored anything in the bible or elsewhere. You believe that Joseph Smith had a revelation that the ‘Lord’ of the Old Testament was the pre-mortal Jesus Christ. The same Joseph Smith who invented the law of polygamy; the same Joseph Smith who claimed that the law of polygamy that he invented was a restoration of the law of polygamy that Abraham and other ancient patriarchs practiced without the least shred of evidence! And you tell me to do my research!!

  • I agree, the LDS church is based on a tissue of lies and deception. Firstly, the statement given says ‘Today, the church disavows the THEORIES…’ ( my emphasis ). Rubbish, it was taught as RACIST FACT not THEORY, and the quoted statement regarding Race and the Priesthood is another piece of evidence that the Mormon God is stupid or that all the racist FACT contained in the Book of Mormon; The Journal of Discourses; The Book of Abraham is pure invention.

  • Jimrawson, do some research and you will see that there is lots of credible evidence of Joseph Fielding Smith’s homosexuality. The church has a double standard. That should come as no surprise to anyone who understands human behavior and the true nature of the church.

  • Jimrawson, the bible also clearly approves of slavery, thinks adultery is a capital sin, etc…the bible also says that believers should give ALL their goods to the poor, etc. I have no doubt that I could find lots of prescriptions for proper behavior in the bible that you do not follow.

  • Don’t forget that LDS officials expressed plenty of racism. Just look at the ravings–excuse me, writings–of Ezra Taft Benson.

  • This should come as no surprise, certainly not to anyone who understands the true nature of the church.

    In many ways, the LDS church is absolutely brilliant. For example, all that stuff about “family”: is there any religion that is not “pro family”? In fact, lots of church policies are distinctly *anti-family* and help break up families. But because the church advertises itself explicitly as “pro family”, few people look under the surface and ask “is that REALLY true?” I call that brilliant. Joseph Smith in particular had a good understanding of human behavior–umm, someone help me out here, what was he doing before he founded the church? something about confidence games?–and his successors continued that.

    The true nature of the LDS church is that it is all about power and authority and trying to control the lives of members.

  • I don’t see anything wrong with bigamy or polygamy. I have my own seer stone. I do think Smith was wrong to marry a 14 year old girl. I do not think he was Jesus and this made mistakes just like every prophet in the Bible

  • Correct – also Mark E Peterson and Bruce R McConkie had a lot to say about the position of ‘black’ people in God’s eternal plan.

  • Further to that: McConkie was the author of a work published I think around 1962, “The Encyclopedia of Mormonism”, something like that. That work contained all sorts of nonsense about African Americans–stuff like “lack of valiance in the pre-existence” (how can you not laugh readg that?)

    When the work was re-published after the 1978 “revelation”, all that garbage was gone.

    Check out the opening pages in *1984*, in which Winston Smith sits at his desk re-writing “history”…..

  • Hello Wayne, because you present yourself as a clever man I ask you a question. Did God curse white Jews with a black skin in the continent that eventually became known as North America? I am sure you know the point in the Book Of Mormon that when sometime between 588 and 570 b.c. ‘……God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them’ ( 2 Nephi Ch 5: 21 ). The curse from God on the Lamanites has always intrigued me. Do you think that white Lamanites literally did turn from white skin people to black skin people as a consequence of being cursed by God? Thank you.

  • Amazing Grapes. Thanks for outing the bizarre editing of the curriculum that current church leaders wish to foist upon LDS youth. Sadly, for them, young people today are far more open-minded, socially aware, and tech-savvy than the 15 Old Men ever thought of being. The result will be a smaller cadre of young LDS fanatics vastly outnumbered by socially responsible young people left aghast by such clumsy nonsense as the “revealed Word of God.”

  • You are a liar and have zero integrity. From the LDS Church’s own website: “Where the Church stands:

    “… Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters….”

    Even the church knows it is not a choice. Just because they have come up with a draconian guideline, they really do not know what to do with God’s children who were born gay. No relationship? How about suicide. The Church seems to be ok with this. You, on the other had, are a bigot and a liar. People are born into their sexuality. Period. Just because YOU say otherwise, does not make it true. It has not been proven beyond doubt. It speaks volumes that you refer to a gay person as “feminine male friend” That alone is bigotry. Check yourself dude.

  • Wayne, you seem nice. But back to the issue at hand. The Church cannot answer some of its past discrepancies. And you may be fine with that. Others are not. Jana illustrates a beautiful and very current example of that. My LDS Mother alone has chosen the Church over some of her children (she imposed her own limits). I have no Mother. Not sure what to think about that but it does not make me warm and fuzzy towards them (the Church). I don’t have a whole lot more to compare to how I have been treated.

  • Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Old Testament law. Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” He was called Rabbi in the New Testament – meaning he studied the Old Testament to become a Rabbi.

    To say Paul’s words should not count when he was personally chosen to by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit is ridiculous. Paul healed many, casted out evil spirits, and was taken up to visit heaven yet you want to throw his Spirit filled word away because it is contrary to your lifestyle.

    There is a Harvard study that shows people were not born gay. And if you were – Jesus Christ says to be “born again” – that there is hope for change.

  • Any student of the scriptures has a clear understanding that “Lord” as contained in the Old and New Testament refers to Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, i.e., Leviticus 1 verse 1: And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,…….” Who do you think the “Lord” is that is mentioned numerous times in the Bible instructing his people? And, Joseph Smith did not invent the law of plural marriage. It was practiced righteously and unrighteously in the Old Testament, i.e., Solomon and King David! And, apparently you probably missed it at the conclusion of the 18th chapter of Leviticus wherein it says in verse 30, condemning homosexuality and all sexual sins: “Therefore, shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were commited before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein; I ‘am’ the LORD your God.” Yes, my friend, the term Lord refers to Jesus Christ the Lord of this earth and the Lord of all of God’s creations throughout the Holy Bible!

  • I’m certain you must have verifiable evidence of the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith acting out his supposed homosexuality. This kind of “evidence” usually comes from those excommunicated from the Church or those who just want to tear down any religious figure to “humanize” them to their standards.

  • This is an interesting line of attack you have chosen, Morminion! I know you can write effectively without using the gratuitous inflammatory characters, words and phrases. However, I have a few comments about your substantive criticisms.

    1. LDS Sanitization Charge – Within the LDS faith there is a general understanding that most humans do best with “milk before meat” which means we teach the less complex and/or disturbing levels first. I taught public school in southern California for 39 years, and this process is certainly common throughout education including in the math which I taught for my last 15 years. Unfortunately, many in the LDS faith, including such key leaders as Joseph Fielding Smith and Boyd K. Packer wanted us to avoid teaching or even sharing the messy parts all together. I believe President Joseph Fielding Smith’s mind was eventually changed (by the Lord) when he became President of the Church and called Leonard J. Arrington to serve as Church historian in 1972. Brother Arrington reopened the Church History Archives to qualified researchers (While serving as Church Historian, Smith had closed the archives after the publication of “No Man Knows My History” in 1945). Elder Packer definitely wanted to suppress any LDS history that was not uplifting. However, history is almost always complex and messy and the Bible certainly shares messy parts as well as uplifting parts.

    However, the Church has become quite forthright about its history, warts and all, in the last several years [for example see article and book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre at https://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/09/the-mountain-meadows-massacre?lang=eng and the book “Massacre at Mountain Meadows”(2008)]. I believe that the leaders of the Church have decided that, by analogy, it is wiser to practice timely and thoughtful inoculation than to try to clear the environment of all intellectual pathogens. 😉 LOL! Thus we see the Church clearly making available the Joseph Smith Papers (http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/ ), the 11 Gospel Topics Essays (https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng ), etc. These are now being purposely worked into the new high-school-age Seminary curriculum and will, as curriculum revisions are made, work their way into all appropriate curricula.

    2. Information on Book of Mormon Translation Process – All Joseph Smith ever said on the translation process was that it was by the gift and power of God. What we have is a few eye-witness accounts of the process, a few more second-hand accounts, and quite bit of speculation and spin. The Gospel Topic Essay, “Book of Mormon Translation,” is clear, well-referenced and forthright although relative short (see https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation?lang=eng ). There were earlier articles, one of which I think is even better than the Gospel Topic Essay. It is “By the Gift and Power of God” by Professor Richard Loyd Anderson and published in the the LDS Magazine for adults, “The Ensign,” in 1977 and available at https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/09/by-the-gift-and-power-of-god?lang=eng#pop_001-03087_000_021 . That is where and when I first learned of the seer-stone which was also described quite clearly in the LDS Magazine for Children, “The Friend” in 1974 and available at https://www.lds.org/friend/1974/09/a-peaceful-heart?lang=eng .

    Summarizing what I understand about the process is that eye-witnesses — Emma Smith (near the time she died), Martin Harris (who acted as scribe for the first116 pages) and David Whitmer (who observed at least once) — describe the seer-stone, placed in a hat, being used in the translation process. Oliver Cowdery (who acted as scribe for the entire Book of Mormon we have) described the Urim and Thummim, with breast plate, being used. David Whitmer also mentions the Urim and Thummim (references can be found within the “Book of Mormon Translation” essay and the “By the Gift and Power of God” article for which I have previously provided links). All these sources and several others describe the Gold Plates as real.

    Now, I’ve provided my sources. From where did you get the information that has lead to your conclusions?

    That is what the primary sources say and, of course, neither of us were there. I think that it is fairly safe to conclude, for all who find the accounts at all credible, that both were used. Finally, in the primary source accounts of Joseph Smith’s other translation and revelatory processes neither the seer-stone nor the Urim and Thummim are mentioned.

    To answer your last question: If I was trying any con, including a fake religion, I would make it as believable as possible and would not include translating using a rock in a hat or using a pair of ancient spectacles!

    However, do I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God? Yes, I do because of personally received revelation from God. Having a degree in History from a well-respected secular university (UC Santa Barbara), I have carefully examined each of the other secular explanations for the Book of Mormon. When scrutinized, none of those are academically credible. Meanwhile the Book of Mormon is a complex and profound book of scripture from which and about which I continue to learn after reading and studying it for 50 years.

    Thanks for reading and considering my lengthy comment.

  • It’s sad that you can’t, or won’t, accept that an individual has same same sex attraction regardless of who they are. What’s so special about anyone? Joseph Fielding Smith was a human being, and some human being have same sex attraction, so what? The issue is that the LDS leaders preach against same sex attraction, but, it’s OK if Joseph Fielding Smith the patriarch for the church is gay.From the mid 1830s Joseph Smith taught that God was once a man who evolved to become a God, therefore it is possible that God may have been gay as being a gay man ( or gay woman ) is human.

  • I love your heartfelt opinions. BTW… witness tampering by criminals trying to keep the con going even longer happens all the time. Had Joseph not been a known criminal.. His-tory would be more credible. But good luck selling your religion to people when all of the warts and all are factually presented. Good luck getting them to believe in something with so many holes and peculiarities in it. There were no Lamanites or Nephites…period, so the story ends there. And as a secularist, no one has been proven to talk to or for God. Closed Quote Even your leaders have made HUGE mistakes and even HUGERer mistakes in covering up their mistakes. That’s my point. Nothing special or supernatural separates them from us. Aloha and Morm On. You seem like a guy I would love to share a beer with and talk story.

  • PS Your comments are concise and complex… so I like em. Do you not get called on enough at church to bear them to fellow members. I mean, there are kids in the audience. They don’t usually go for verbose no matter how fascinating. Keep on Mormin’

  • “So, Joseph Smith held the titles of Prophet, Seer and Revelator and had particular skills as a translator of dead languages. I believe he employed a mystical device in his translation. Is that correct?” “Yes,” I said. “He used a Urim & Thummim mounted on a breastplate to translate the Book of Mormon.” “As in the Old Testament Urim & Thummim?”
    I nodded. “He passed the golden plates below the stones like reading glasses. The translation would appear, punctuation & all. It’s the most perfect of any book ever published on earth.”

    The giant stroked his beard.

    “The Urim & Thummim originated in Babylon as the Urtu & Tamitu, meaning oracle & command, respectively. These were stones used in divination to determine whether a person, thing or situation was to be adjudged cursed or found faultless by fate. Like dice. The Urim & Thummim were the symbol of judgment anciently like the scales of Lady Justice are today.” Well, whatever they were called, they worked. The proof is right here.” “Indeed. I’d very much like to study Joseph Smith’s translation closely.”
    “There’s this.” I opened my leather triple to the depictions of the Egyptian papyrus that served as the basis for the Books of Abraham & Moses included in my scriptures. The giant studied them then lowered the book with the barest hint of a grin. He held up the page depicting Abraham being sacrificed on Pharoah’s table. “I recognize this rendering,” he said reaching for a textbook. “It’s from the Egyptian Book of Breathings. Have a look.” Cadeau opened to a nearly identical image in his book.

    “Get outta town. That looks the same as Joseph’s papyrus. How can that be? How many books did Abraham write?
    Cadeau got impatient. “Elder Ladd, that image is by far the most common of any associated with the Egyptian rite of mummification. It’s a standard inclusion like a death certificate.” There was a sudden sharpness to his manner that caught me off guard. The giant seemed upset. “All mummies required them. They were instructions for their resurrections. “During the time period of early Mormonism,” he explained, “there was a thriving trade in Egyptian artifacts that dispersed countless sacred remains into private collections throughout the world.” His disgust turned visibly to venom.

    “This text depicts the resurrection of the father of all Egyptian Gods, Osiris. The Great Osiris was viewed by His faithful as your Heavenly Father is viewed by you. He was adored and revered. Osiris was slain by His brother Set, who hacked the god’s body apart & scattered the pieces abroad to prevent them from being rejoined. Though Set was unsuccessful in killing his brother , his deplorable act inspired a concept, which became known as re-ligare. religio, & finally, religion – meaning to bind & bring back together as one body. The word mummy is from the Sumerian mu-mu & means ever reborn – like the transit of the moon & sun. Osiris was the 1st example, or archetype of resurrection from the dead in the minds of Man. Osiris cheated death – and was cheated by it.” Cadeau cringed. “Only fifteen of the sixteen Osiris Sections were recoverable. An essential story for another time.” His demeanor had now darkened into anger. He waved my scriptures dismissively then slapped the book with the back of his hand. “Your prophet’s text is insulting. The white priest’s head on the black body has been clumsily substituted for the head of Anubis – the jackal-headed god. In the original text, Anubis is depicted rejoining the body of Osiris so that He might return to life.” Cadeau closed his textbook.
    “Elder Ladd, the translation Mr. Smith provided is wholly without merit as scholarship or scripture. That is not a judgment. It’s academic fact. As with the man’s head on a god’s body, the Smith interpretation bears no similarity whatsoever to the true meaning or intent of this text. ”
    The gardener took a moment & composed himself.

    “Your prophet’s version describes the attempted murder of Abraham. The actual text attests to the promise of resurrection. What does that tell you? The difference between the two versions is the difference between eternal life & violent death,” he explained. “That is something to pay attention to. Now, in fairness, I would have to study all of Joseph Smith’s writings more carefully.” “Can you read Egyptian too?” Cadeau opened a desk drawer & withdrew a legal pad. “Anchor this paper for me.” I held it to the desktop as he picked up a black felt-tip pen in one hand & a red pen in the other.” “Say something, Elder Ladd. Anything at all.”
    “I don’t follow.” “Quote a line from any source. A play, perhaps. Something out of a book.”
    “Okay. It’s suppertime and Charlie Brown has forgotten to feed me. Here I lie, a withering, hollow shell of a dog.” Writing with both hands at the same time, Cadeau quickly rendered the sentence in Egyptian hieroglyphics from opposite ends of the paper – working toward the middle until the translation was complete. He tore it off with a flourish & handed the sheet to me. “I utilized the familiar form of Charles, which, like Carl, means ‘free man,’ but take this to any Egyptologist for translation. I can attest to it’s accuracy.” The spectacle left me dumbfounded.

  • “How did you do that?” He smiled. “Now what of Mr. Smith’s prophetic skills? Did his predictions come true?” “They all did. The Doctrine & Covenants is full of them.” “Pick a number between one & one hundred,” he said, taking the book from my hands. “Eighty-four.” He slid through the pages, mostly still sealed w/ silver leaf. “In section Eighty-Four of the Doctrine & Covenants, Joseph Smith Jr. prophesied of the building of the Lord’s Zion in Missouri. He mentions a great city & a temple to be constructed within the lifetime’s of the people hearing his words – a holy city that would last for all time. Here’s the text: Verily, this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built up by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.” Cadeau closed the book.

    “So, how did he do on that one?” “What do you mean?” “Was God’s temple reared in that place in that generation? Was New Jerusalem built as foretold & commanded by Jesus – within thirty years of the prediction? Is it still standing?” “Well, no. The saints were expelled from Missouri by angry mobs about the time that revelation was being revealed. Zion was established in Utah instead by Brigham Young . But we’ll be walking back to build New Jerusalem one day, just as he predicted. Jackson County. My parents talk about it. It’s prophesied. I think.” “New Jerusalem is Zion. You already live there, Elder Ladd. Save your parents the walk.”
    “There’s a difference between Zion & New Jerusalem,” I argued. “They’re different places. At least they are now.” Cadeau sighed. “May I see that book again, please?” He read the next verse. “For verily this generation shall not pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. “Elder Ladd, I think Joseph Smith makes himself emphatically clear here. A generation is about thirty years – making the fulfillment of his prophecy almost one hundred & twenty years overdue & counting.”

    He opened the book again. “Lets give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    This time, pick a number between one and…one hundred thirty six.” “One hundred eleven.” Cadeau turned to it on the first try and held up the book proudly. “Oh,” he remarked. “This is a delightful choice. The church is in debt & Joseph Smith Jr. has instructed men to accompany him to Salem, Massachusetts where his wealth and the very city itself would be placed into the control the Mormons. That was in 1836. I wasn’t aware the Mormon Church ever possessed the city of Salem and its wealth as it does Salt Lake City.” “Uhn, uh,” I argued. It doesn’t say that.” I took the book back and read for myself. The fourth verse, stated: And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours.
    “In due time,” I shouted. “Maybe due time hasn’t happened yet.”
    He asked to see the book again, shaking his head.

    “Elder Ladd, this instruction was directed at a specific group of Mr. Smith’s contemporaries the Lord was displeased with because of their follies. I doubt the statement was meant to include your leaders today or in the days to come. This was given as revelation, not a raincheck. Just read the words as they were written without making up excuses for them. Your mental calisthenics are exhausting.”
    “Well, he nailed the Word of Wisdom,” I protested. “Yeah. Check out the Eighty-Ninth section. Let’s talk about that one for a minute.”
    Cadeau closed the book.
    “Elder Ladd, I mean you and your church no disrespect, but Mr. Smith has conclusively disqualified himself as a seer and translator – and he’s done so in writing. There isn’t a single accurate detail to be found in Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the Egyptian facsimiles in your scriptures. Mormonism’s God failed to get the word ‘the’ right.” “Says you.” “The discovery of the Rosetta Stone puts to rest any speculation of special prowess on his part or bias on my own. The founder of your faith was either mistaken, deceived or being deceptive in the writing the books of Abraham and Moses – none of which inspires confidence in his claims of prophetic gifts and divine connection.

    The standard of proof that applies to all men must be applied to Joseph Smith as well – no matter how revered, trusted or loved he is. He left an ink trail with his own pen and it’s dishonest or naive of you to be unwilling to follow it.”

    “He translated the Book of Mormon,” I countered. “The book itself is proof of his power. It was translated PERFECTLY in six weeks. An uneducated farm boy could not have written this book. There’s actual power in it.”
    “I agree, Elder Ladd. But since he has demonstrated no faculty with ancient languages, we can verify, I am under no obligation to take his word for ancient languages yet unseen.” He opened the book to the facsimile of Abraham. “If this translation had come through Charles Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard or Reverend Moon, and been dismissed by modern Egyptology as fantasy, you and your fellow faithful would not be so generous. Though I do find it interesting that historic Abraham was in fact imperiled in just such a fashion as Mr. Smith suggests here.”

  • My lip was quivering and I couldn’t make it stop.
    “See this, Elder Ladd. You are ordering your life and perceptions according to standards required by God Almighty, as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. We have weighed his prophetic claims equitably and he has been found lacking in key respects. I think no less of the man, but you are by weight of reason no longer indebted to the source of such prophecies and commandments. Joseph Smith spoke for Joseph Smith – who had uncovered the divinity in himself. This was his contribution to the advancement of Human consciousness – not the parlor tricks he believed he had to perform in order to retain his flock’s flagging interest.” My temple pounded. “You can’t dismiss the man and his God based on two failed prophesies and some spelling errors in a dead language, Cadeau.” Cadeau smiled coldly. “I’m satisfied with my conclusions and will leave it at that. You may wish to examine the writings of Joseph Smith more closely. I’ll wager there is a great deal of truth you and your fellow faithful have overlooked.” “Nobody reads the Doctrine and Covenants,” I admitted. “People poke around in it. It’s hard to follow.” Cadeau put his hand on my shoulder. “Follow your wise men wisely, brother. Many have been called prophets. Few of them have led their flocks to peace and freedom.” Peace and freedom.***

  • “2” by Evan Lord is not your usual tale of a boy and his God – and earns its gasps one revelation at a time. Evan Lord offers paradigm-shifting insights into the nature of existence; rewriting the rules for attaining bliss – even while caught within the confines of everyday, inescapable infinity. 2 is the memoir of Ewan Ladd – a Salt Lake City teenager who finds himself on a two-year mission to Germany – preaching the family faith in the late seventies. His second day on the job, the young minister knocks on a door that opens him up to an unfamiliar universe. Elder Ladd meets Cadeau – a mysterious, seven-foot-tall gardener with knowledge of human origins so casual and intimate, it converts religious and mythological interpretation into a more reasonable truth. Over the course of that conversion – parceled out in flashback snippets throughout the book’s entire length – Cadeau reveals many great, mind-boggling precepts to the Mormon apprentice. The gardener offers a simple, agreeable path to peace, while describing an altogether more interesting vision and version of mankind. 2 invites readers to take their rightful place in a grand design. A coming-of-New-Age tale, 2 describes the author’s journey out of organized religious thought – into a Heaven universes closer to home. It’s a dangerous book – made more so by its fairness. Evan Lord’s 2 is an even-handed dissection of the world’s ironic divider – and a message for our time delivered with style, wit and a master’s subtlety. Of his epiphany, Evan Lord writes: “The universe doesn’t care what you do with your divinity. It operates on a simple premise: You decide your life by your choices. The only rule of Heaven is to follow your heart. The only rule of Hell is to follow someone else’s.”

  • Sorry, let’s try this again…

    “So, Joseph Smith held the titles of Prophet, Seer and Revelator and had particular skills as a translator of dead languages. I believe he employed a mystical device in his translation. Is that correct?” “Yes,” I said. “He used a Urim & Thummim mounted on a breastplate to translate the Book of Mormon.” “As in the Old Testament Urim & Thummim?”
    I nodded. “He passed the golden plates below the stones like reading glasses. The translation would appear, punctuation & all. It’s the most perfect of any book ever published on earth.”

    The giant stroked his beard.

    “The Urim & Thummim originated in Babylon as the Urtu & Tamitu, meaning oracle & command, respectively. These were stones used in divination to determine whether a person, thing or situation was to be adjudged cursed or found faultless by fate. Like dice. The Urim & Thummim were the symbol of judgment anciently like the scales of Lady Justice are today.” Well, whatever they were called, they worked. The proof is right here.” “Indeed. I’d very much like to study Joseph Smith’s translation closely.”
    “There’s this.” I opened my leather triple to the depictions of the Egyptian papyrus that served as the basis for the Books of Abraham & Moses included in my scriptures. The giant studied them then lowered the book with the barest hint of a grin. He held up the page depicting Abraham being sacrificed on Pharoah’s table. “I recognize this rendering,” he said reaching for a textbook. “It’s from the Egyptian Book of Breathings. Have a look.” Cadeau opened to a nearly identical image in his book.

    “Get outta town. That looks the same as Joseph’s papyrus. How can that be? How many books did Abraham write?
    Cadeau got impatient. “Elder Ladd, that image is by far the most common of any associated with the Egyptian rite of mummification. It’s a standard inclusion like a death certificate.” There was a sudden sharpness to his manner that caught me off guard. The giant seemed upset. “All mummies required them. They were instructions for their resurrections. “During the time period of early Mormonism,” he explained, “there was a thriving trade in Egyptian artifacts that dispersed countless sacred remains into private collections throughout the world.” His disgust turned visibly to venom.

    “This text depicts the resurrection of the father of all Egyptian Gods, Osiris. The Great Osiris was viewed by His faithful as your Heavenly Father is viewed by you. He was adored and revered. Osiris was slain by His brother Set, who hacked the god’s body apart & scattered the pieces abroad to prevent them from being rejoined. Though Set was unsuccessful in killing his brother , his deplorable act inspired a concept, which became known as re-ligare. religio, & finally, religion – meaning to bind & bring back together as one body. The word mummy is from the Sumerian mu-mu & means ever reborn – like the transit of the moon & sun. Osiris was the 1st example, or archetype of resurrection from the dead in the minds of Man. Osiris cheated death – and was cheated by it.” Cadeau cringed. “Only fifteen of the sixteen Osiris Sections were recoverable. An essential story for another time.” His demeanor had now darkened into anger. He waved my scriptures dismissively then slapped the book with the back of his hand. “Your prophet’s text is insulting. The white priest’s head on the black body has been clumsily substituted for the head of Anubis – the jackal-headed god. In the original text, Anubis is depicted rejoining the body of Osiris so that He might return to life.” Cadeau closed his textbook.
    “Elder Ladd, the translation Mr. Smith provided is wholly without merit as scholarship or scripture. That is not a judgment. It’s academic fact. As with the man’s head on a god’s body, the Smith interpretation bears no similarity whatsoever to the true meaning or intent of this text. ”
    The gardener took a moment & composed himself.

  • “Your prophet’s version describes the attempted murder of Abraham. The actual text attests to the promise of resurrection. What does that tell you? The difference between the two versions is the difference between eternal life & violent death,” he explained. “That is something to pay attention to. Now, in fairness, I would have to study all of Joseph Smith’s writings more carefully.” “Can you read Egyptian too?” Cadeau opened a desk drawer & withdrew a legal pad. “Anchor this paper for me.” I held it to the desktop as he picked up a black felt-tip pen in one hand & a red pen in the other.” “Say something, Elder Ladd. Anything at all.”
    “I don’t follow.” “Quote a line from any source. A play, perhaps. Something out of a book.”
    “Okay. It’s suppertime and Charlie Brown has forgotten to feed me. Here I lie, a withering, hollow shell of a dog.” Writing with both hands at the same time, Cadeau quickly rendered the sentence in Egyptian hieroglyphics from opposite ends of the paper – working toward the middle until the translation was complete. He tore it off with a flourish & handed the sheet to me. “I utilized the familiar form of Charles, which, like Carl, means ‘free man,’ but take this to any Egyptologist for translation. I can attest to it’s accuracy.” The spectacle left me dumbfounded.

    “How did you do that?” He smiled. “Now what of Mr. Smith’s prophetic skills? Did his predictions come true?” “They all did. The Doctrine & Covenants is full of them.” “Pick a number between one & one hundred,” he said, taking the book from my hands. “Eighty-four.” He slid through the pages, mostly still sealed w/ silver leaf. “In section Eighty-Four of the Doctrine & Covenants, Joseph Smith Jr. prophesied of the building of the Lord’s Zion in Missouri. He mentions a great city & a temple to be constructed within the lifetime’s of the people hearing his words – a holy city that would last for all time. Here’s the text: Verily, this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built up by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.” Cadeau closed the book.

    “So, how did he do on that one?” “What do you mean?” “Was God’s temple reared in that place in that generation? Was New Jerusalem built as foretold & commanded by Jesus – within thirty years of the prediction? Is it still standing?” “Well, no. The saints were expelled from Missouri by angry mobs about the time that revelation was being revealed. Zion was established in Utah instead by Brigham Young . But we’ll be walking back to build New Jerusalem one day, just as he predicted. Jackson County. My parents talk about it. It’s prophesied. I think.” “New Jerusalem is Zion. You already live there, Elder Ladd. Save your parents the walk.”
    “There’s a difference between Zion & New Jerusalem,” I argued. “They’re different places. At least they are now.” Cadeau sighed. “May I see that book again, please?” He read the next verse. “For verily this generation shall not pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. “Elder Ladd, I think Joseph Smith makes himself emphatically clear here. A generation is about thirty years – making the fulfillment of his prophecy almost one hundred & twenty years overdue & counting.”

    He opened the book again. “Lets give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    This time, pick a number between one and…one hundred thirty six.” “One hundred eleven.” Cadeau turned to it on the first try and held up the book proudly. “Oh,” he remarked. “This is a delightful choice. The church is in debt & Joseph Smith Jr. has instructed men to accompany him to Salem, Massachusetts where his wealth and the very city itself would be placed into the control the Mormons. That was in 1836. I wasn’t aware the Mormon Church ever possessed the city of Salem and its wealth as it does Salt Lake City.” “Uhn, uh,” I argued. It doesn’t say that.” I took the book back and read for myself. The fourth verse, stated: And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours.
    “In due time,” I shouted. “Maybe due time hasn’t happened yet.”
    He asked to see the book again, shaking his head.

    “Elder Ladd, this instruction was directed at a specific group of Mr. Smith’s contemporaries the Lord was displeased with because of their follies. I doubt the statement was meant to include your leaders today or in the days to come. This was given as revelation, not a raincheck. Just read the words as they were written without making up excuses for them. Your mental calisthenics are exhausting.”
    “Well, he nailed the Word of Wisdom,” I protested. “Yeah. Check out the Eighty-Ninth section. Let’s talk about that one for a minute.”
    Cadeau closed the book.

  • “Elder Ladd, I mean you and your church no disrespect, but Mr. Smith has conclusively disqualified himself as a seer and translator – and he’s done so in writing. There isn’t a single accurate detail to be found in Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the Egyptian facsimiles in your scriptures. Mormonism’s God failed to get the word ‘the’ right.” “Says you.” “The discovery of the Rosetta Stone puts to rest any speculation of special prowess on his part or bias on my own. The founder of your faith was either mistaken, deceived or being deceptive in the writing the books of Abraham and Moses – none of which inspires confidence in his claims of prophetic gifts and divine connection.

    The standard of proof that applies to all men must be applied to Joseph Smith as well – no matter how revered, trusted or loved he is. He left an ink trail with his own pen and it’s dishonest or naive of you to be unwilling to follow it.”

    “He translated the Book of Mormon,” I countered. “The book itself is proof of his power. It was translated PERFECTLY in six weeks. An uneducated farm boy could not have written this book. There’s actual power in it.”
    “I agree, Elder Ladd. But since he has demonstrated no faculty with ancient languages, we can verify, I am under no obligation to take his word for ancient languages yet unseen.” He opened the book to the facsimile of Abraham. “If this translation had come through Charles Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard or Reverend Moon, and been dismissed by modern Egyptology as fantasy, you and your fellow faithful would not be so generous. Though I do find it interesting that historic Abraham was in fact imperiled in just such a fashion as Mr. Smith suggests here.”
    My lip was quivering and I couldn’t make it stop.
    “See this, Elder Ladd. You are ordering your life and perceptions according to standards required by God Almighty, as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. We have weighed his prophetic claims equitably and he has been found lacking in key respects. I think no less of the man, but you are by weight of reason no longer indebted to the source of such prophecies and commandments. Joseph Smith spoke for Joseph Smith – who had uncovered the divinity in himself. This was his contribution to the advancement of Human consciousness – not the parlor tricks he believed he had to perform in order to retain his flock’s flagging interest.” My temple pounded. “You can’t dismiss the man and his God based on two failed prophesies and some spelling errors in a dead language, Cadeau.” Cadeau smiled coldly. “I’m satisfied with my conclusions and will leave it at that. You may wish to examine the writings of Joseph Smith more closely. I’ll wager there is a great deal of truth you and your fellow faithful have overlooked.” “Nobody reads the Doctrine and Covenants,” I admitted. “People poke around in it. It’s hard to follow.” Cadeau put his hand on my shoulder. “Follow your wise men wisely, brother. Many have been called prophets. Few of them have led their flocks to peace and freedom.” Peace and freedom.***

  • “2” by Evan Lord is not your usual tale of a boy and his God – and earns its gasps one revelation at a time. Evan Lord offers paradigm-shifting insights into the nature of existence; rewriting the rules for attaining bliss – even while caught within the confines of everyday, inescapable infinity. 2 is the memoir of Ewan Ladd – a Salt Lake City teenager who finds himself on a two-year mission to Germany – preaching the family faith in the late seventies. His second day on the job, the young minister knocks on a door that opens him up to an unfamiliar universe. Elder Ladd meets Cadeau – a mysterious, seven-foot-tall gardener with knowledge of human origins so casual and intimate, it converts religious and mythological interpretation into a more reasonable truth. Over the course of that conversion – parceled out in flashback snippets throughout the book’s entire length – Cadeau reveals many great, mind-boggling precepts to the Mormon apprentice. The gardener offers a simple, agreeable path to peace, while describing an altogether more interesting vision and version of mankind. 2 invites readers to take their rightful place in a grand design. A coming-of-New-Age tale, 2 describes the author’s journey out of organized religious thought – into a Heaven universes closer to home. It’s a dangerous book – made more so by its fairness. Evan Lord’s 2 is an even-handed dissection of the world’s ironic divider – and a message for our time delivered with style, wit and a master’s subtlety. Of his epiphany, Evan Lord writes: “The universe doesn’t care what you do with your divinity. It operates on a simple premise: You decide your life by your choices. The only rule of Heaven is to follow your heart. The only rule of Hell is to follow someone else’s.”

  • That’s a bit difficult for me too. It’s probably a practical reality that it would create too much cognitive dissonance in children to have them hearing in church that their parents are apostates. And I don’t know any gay parents but I can’t imagine any that would want to put their kids through that. But if they sincerely want their kids to be baptized, that would a rejection of them. In defense of the leadership, some people who say the brethren are cintradidicting themselves when they on the one hand preach the importance of baptism and on the other hand discount baptism of these children,, look at how Gordon B Hinckley discounted the value of baptism if people don’t follow through with active practice of their faith. It’s not worth much.

  • Firstly, ‘The Lord’ as recorded in the Old Testament has never been identified as the pre- mortal Jesus Christ of the New Testament. Show me where in the Old Testament ‘The Lord’ is identified as the pre – mortal Jesus Christ of the New Testament. Where in the Old Testament does ‘The Lord’ declare that he is the pre – mortal Jesus Christ of the New Testament. Secondly, the God or Lord of the Old Testament never commanded anyone to enter into a polygamous relationship. With regard to Solomon, in 1 Kings: 11; 1 – 3 we read that Solomon ‘loved many strange women’ and that God commanded Israel ‘Ye shall not go into them’ which is evidence that God never commanded Solomon to practice polygamy and God never commanded anyone to practice polygamy. If the God or Lord of the Old Testament is in fact the pre – mortal Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament, why didn’t that individual make reference to plural marriage during his mortal ministry? None of Jesus Christ’s apostles make any reference to plural marriage. In fact in Leviticus 18; 17 – 18, 20, plural marriage is forbidden and yet Joseph Smith decided God was wrong and Joseph Smith married sisters, mother and daughter and transgressed God’s commandment. I’m sure if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, Joseph Smith would have obeyed God’s commandments. As for Leviticus 18; 30, it’s a pity that Joseph Smith never read that chapter and verse, and as for a person’s sexual preference, who’s business is it other than the individual? If Joseph Smith married women contrary to God’s commandments it is his business, but, don’t tell everyone that God commanded him to take multiple partners when there is clearly no scriptural basis for polygamy.

  • Since you can’t even manage to get the name of the last Church patriarch right (hint: It was not Joseph Fielding Smith), I don’t see why anyone should even give you the time of day regarding your other scurrilous charges.

  • So, Riess, you’re okay with your friend Dean Lewis addressing a fellow Saint like this, while simultaneously lying through his teeth while knowingly confounding “born like this” with “not choosing attractions”?

  • You are correct, Joseph Fielding Smith ( 1899 – 1964 ) was the penultimate so called ‘Patriarch’ to the LDS church. His cousin Eldred Gee Smith ( 1907 – 2013 ) was next in the ‘Smith’ family firm to get the job. The system of revelation that the LDS God was said to have set up established the ‘Smith’ family as a genetically ordained lineage of patriarchs. If you can suspend your disgust at my ‘scurrilous charges’ the following information may be of benefit to you.

    Joseph Smith claimed through revelation to re- establish the ancient order of “Patriarch,” patterned after the father’s blessings given in the Bible (see Gen. 27 and Gen. 49). Unlike the Old Testament blessings given by a father on his deathbed to his sons, today the LDS blessings are given by non-relatives to various members of the church as a sort of road map for their lives and declares their lineage through one of the tribes of Israel. Mormonism claims that the designation “Patriarch” is the same as “Evangelist.” LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote: Having lost the true knowledge of the priesthood and its offices, and knowing nothing of patriarch blessings as a necessary part of church administration, the false traditions of the sectarian world have applied the designation evangelist to traveling preachers, missionaries, and revivalists. The sectarian theory is that evangelists travel to spread the gospel. There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament about the need of Patriarchs in the church. Also, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that an evangelist was ever known as a Patriarch. The word “evangelist” comes from the Greek word “evangel” which means “the good news.” Thus an evangelist is one who proclaims “the good news.” Paul wrote to Timothy “Preach the word; . . . do the work of an evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:2, 5). There are plenty more online sources that would be of benefit to you.

  • I appreciate that acknowledgement. I think it’s important that everyone think for himself. It may seem like a slow pace of change, but I think we have seen LDS leaders becoming more sensitive and tolerant to people of differing views, and I expect that pace will accelerate.

  • Yes, I’m fine with bigamy and polygamy. I have my own seer stone, and I have a rod of Aaron, just as Smith gave priesthood holders back in the day. The Bible is full of stories of imperfect prophets. Smith wasn’t Jesus.

  • I don’t know specifically. I was referring to the pace of change in the leaders becoming more tolerant of people with differing views, and perhaps more openness. For example, I would like to hear them admit that yes, at the time, the priesthood ban was considered doctrinal, not just policy. Just yesterday, I heard one of the most senior leaders say that other leaders, especially local, should sincerely address their members’ questions and try to find answers with them, and never dismiss the question as not relevant, etc. Even if the answers to some questions may be deferral, patience, and faith instead of immediate certainty and proof. To me that was encouraging.

  • The apparently self-published book “2” by Evan Lord, which Ben Davies is promoting in the 7-8 excerpts, he has ad nauseam provided in this stream is available through Amazon for a low of $24.23 (used) to a high of $86.82 (new). Or, you could: 1) watch the 5 minute music-video version by the same author/performer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWH6qnakI2g, or 2) ignore it all-together! For me, the value of the Book of Mormon is Not primarily its entertainment value, but in it value to change my life for the better. 😉

  • I didn’t say that. You should read what I wrote before responding. Not doing so makes you look foolish. I’m fine with consenting adults being bigamists and/or polygamists. I think Smith and others were wrong to do more than this. It is also clear in Smith’s revelations that neither are required for any reason.

  • Mr. Wayne,

    Indeed. Afterall, that’s my reasoning for posting the link.

    Anybody who’s ever read a book in their life will tell you… “that books are always better.”

    (It’s a VERY dangerous book tho)

  • How am I lying? I am confounding nothing. It means what it means. I am born Gay and sure I can choose not to act on it. But that is not possible for anyone for a very long period of time (and it is unhealthy) and puts people in a very dangerous place. What would you do with the Gays?

  • Change his mind a lot? There was a priesthood ban…and then there wasn’t. How is that changing his mind a lot?

  • Why did Joseph Smith baptize / ordain blacks? Why did JS support abolition of the slaves?

    Sure seems like weird things to do if your a racist.

  • When did Jesus call women / give them priesthood in the bible? As far as I know all his Apostles were men. There were kind of instances in the OT but Jesus himself didn’t call any women as Apostles and that should be pretty telling itself.

    If you want a more expansive / accurate history of race and the Mormon church then here’s a book to check out.

    https://www.amazon.com/Religion-Different-Color-Struggle-Whiteness/dp/0199754071/ref=cm_rdp_product

  • Joel,

    I came across this book. I think it provides a lot of information as to why the Leadership stopped ordaining blacks.

    https://www.amazon.com/Religion-Different-Color-Struggle-Whiteness/dp/0199754071/ref=cm_rdp_product

    My thinking is that Brigham Young probably didn’t want to give other Americans anything additional to persecute the early Saints with especially since they were at the time practicing polygamy.

    There were a number of moves to try and make Mormon beliefs fit in more with American culture.

  • You say mental gymnastics I say doing historical research. I guess it is easier to ignore history and have bigoted views towards Mormons than actually try and understand their history. Oh well.

  • Impatience is the typical detractor response. “If you can’t tell me now then you obv don’t know!” You act like historical responses can just be whipped up off the tip of a hat.

  • So are you saying that none of prophets in the OT or NT ever made mistakes? Pretty sure Christ pointed some out to Peter.

  • 18 days ago. You’re 18 days late to the party. 18 days and “The Church” is still racist, misogynist, sexist and has NO revelation. It’s all smoke and mirrors (and money) and changing on a whim every day.

  • Hi Marc, good to hear from you. Take a look at THE MORMON DELUSION;
    Discarded Doctrines and Nonsense Revelations, Volume 3, by Jim Whitfield, published by Lulu Press Inc, Raleigh, North Carolina, ( 2nd edition 2010 ). If you are serious regarding the many changes the Mormon ‘God’ has made in His doctrines since Joseph Smith founded the church, Jim Whitfield’s aforementioned book is a good place to start. If you have copies of the Book of Mormon from the early 70s and up to and including the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon, you might like to do a comparative study of the textual changes in the Book of Mormon, For example, in the introduction to the Book of Mormon published in 1981 you will read ‘…….the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians’ – in the 2013 version of the Book of Mormon you will ‘….the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians’ – the revised statement published in 2013 came about after DNA results were produced that proved that the indigenous people of North America have no Jewish ancestry. All the best.

  • Here is “the book” to check out too but, you probably shouldn’t…

    “2” by Evan Lord is not your usual tale of a boy and his God – and earns its gasps one revelation at a time. Evan Lord offers paradigm-shifting insights into the nature of existence; rewriting the rules for attaining bliss – even while caught within the confines of everyday, inescapable infinity. 2 is the memoir of Ewan Ladd – a Salt Lake City teenager who finds himself on a two-year mission to Germany – preaching the family faith in the late seventies. His second day on the job, the young minister knocks on a door that opens him up to an unfamiliar universe. Elder Ladd meets Cadeau – a mysterious, seven-foot-tall gardener with knowledge of human origins so casual and intimate, it converts religious and mythological interpretation into a more reasonable truth. Over the course of that conversion – parceled out in flashback snippets throughout the book’s entire length – Cadeau reveals many great, mind-boggling precepts to the Mormon apprentice. The gardener offers a simple, agreeable path to peace, while describing an altogether more interesting vision and version of mankind. 2 invites readers to take their rightful place in a grand design. A coming-of-New-Age tale, 2 describes the author’s journey out of organized religious thought – into a Heaven universes closer to home. It’s a dangerous book – made more so by its fairness. Evan Lord’s 2 is an even-handed dissection of the world’s ironic divider – and a message for our time delivered with style, wit and a master’s subtlety. Of his epiphany, Evan Lord writes: “The universe doesn’t care what you do with your divinity. It operates on a simple premise: You decide your life by your choices. The only rule of Heaven is to follow your heart. The only rule of Hell is to follow someone else’s.”

  • So, at what point do all those sticky questions begin to unravel the fabric of belief, before you realize that the only answer that makes any sense at all is that God isn’t at the helm of the LDS church? It really is freeing when you get to the place where you don’t have to keep making up excuses all the time.

  • “Which church”, I cried, raising a spray of diamonds as I slapped the impossible surface supporting my weight. My mind flashed back to the boy pleading with a mute God in an apple grove – and the simple faith I’d cast off that day with the dirt brushed from my knees. “Which is it, Cadeau? Which one is true? Which church DO I join?” The giant being roared with the thunder of angry waters. “Join NONE of them! Join NO church! Establish NO church! Have no other Gods before YOU. Have no temple but your own body. Accept no disciples and follow no masters. Espouse no truth but your own truth. Speak no truth but the truth that lives in you. Love yourself and you love all. Forgive yourself and you forgive all. Respect yourself and you respect all. Honor the GOD within. There are no mighty and no meek among us. There are no strangers. None are more and none are less. All creatures and creations are Lords, manifestations and mirrors – parts and parcels of the infinite ONE . We are all equal, innocent, indestructible points of the same eternal GOD.” I buried my face in trembling hands “Oh Lord, my God -” “Is YOU! he laughed. “The GOD you seek is YOU. The forgiveness you seek is yours alone to grant or withhold.” He stepped back and extended his hand. “Ewan Ladd, arise. Never kneel before another in submission. Never stand above another in dominance. Be your truth as an equal and worthy aspect of all that is. A Lord among Lords. A GOD within GOD. This is the true nature and order of all things.” We embraced in the fog that snaked in between us like angels. Cadeau hugged my shoulder to him as we walked off the water together. “Welcome home, brother.”

    https://www.amazon.com/2-Evan-Lord/dp/0578021536

  • Oh man… You are arguing with the “Morg!” Listen to Rawson and Vickie and all this crazy Mormonspeak about SSA… LOL
    This has been an interesting read, as a man BORN GAY in a huge Mormon family and having left this foolishness after my mission (and after having baptized the first pre-Black-actually-not-marked-after-all Black family in the Netherlands in the late 60s). I left for fundamental, knowledge-based reasons during my studies in the Biological Sciences, and not because I was gay. That’s a whole other crazy story.
    Good luck to you, Dean!
    Here’s one thing though: Because of the “Plan of Salvation,” gay people can NEVER be accepted into the top tier of the Celestial (and I doubt they’d be eligible for the Terrestial…). Hope NO ONE is holding out for that change. LOL

  • It’s a different Joseph Fielding Smith.

    And the Church’s “double standard” is a figment of Covington’s hostile imagination. He assumes, without evidence (1) that Smith acted on his proclivities, (2) that his leaders were aware of it, and (3) they did nothing.

    In fact, point 1 is true, and points 2 and 3 are utterly false.

    The fact that Brother Smith was released from his position in 1946 but died in 1964 is a pretty good clue — to any informed person — that something else was going on.

    Here is a brief summary:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Fielding_Smith_(presiding_patriarch)

  • No… you do your own real research for a change. Or you can just continue to stay asleep. Either way, it really doesn’t matter to me. If you want to continue to believe in the Ester Bunny or Santa Claus, that’s fine.

  • IOW, you cannot support your accusation.

    As such, it is a product of your own mind.

    And evidence of the contents thereof.

  • Fanatical haters never want “all of the warts and all” to be “factually presented.” They (meaning you) want the warts, and ONLY the warts, to be cherry-picked, magnified and obsessed over.

    However, when “all of the warts and all are factually presented,” the picture then shown is much more flattering to the Church than you are prepared to tolerate.

  • One last time… I’m not going to waste my time with someone who thinks that goblins and leprechauns are real… If you REALLY want some place to start on the path of looking at evidence, try looking up the name Helen Mar Kimball.

  • There isn’t much more to your church than a fantastical story about made up cultures by a kid with his head in a hat with a rock. Well that and $50+ BILLION dollars worth of investments.

  • Do you really think advertising a book is an appropriate use of the comments section of someone else’s blog?

  • If you think I think goblins and leprechauns are real, then your grasp of reality is rather tenuous.

    I know all about Helen Mar Kimball. I knew that’s who you were referring to from the outset.

    Now, where is the evidence that Joseph “liked to have sex with 14 year old girls?”

    You made the accusation, you bear the burden of proof.

  • Thank you for proving my point. There is far, far more to the Church than that, but it’s beyond your comprehension.

  • Let’s see.

    A 60 minute lesson is reduced to 40 minutes.

    It’s reduced to 40 minutes by cutting out some material.

    There’s all manner of speculation about what’s going on with the material that was cut out — but pointing out that the lesson was reduced in duration is “defensive?”

    All I can say to that is, “Oh.”

  • Your point was what? Should I just pray about it with an open heart and open mind. If by warts and all you mean the recent revelation about the gays or the women and the faux priesthood or the excommunication of some of your brightest members. I see nothing that would attract me. I’m guessing that a 20-30% retention rate of converts after the first year is considered good for such an obviously fraudulent faith.

  • Did holding back the meat help or hurt the church. Many members feel really betrayed. I hope you can understand why. When I say sanitized I mean when your only sources are the church approved sources like you provided I’m sorry but I’m not impressed. The Gospel Topics essays are like putting a band aid on a severed limb. The dear leaders are just looking for plausible deniability that this information has ALWAYS been available and no one was ever excommunicated for bringing it to the church’s attention. Come on Wayne you have been a member for way too long to not see the subterfuge.

  • Reviewing: You asked me to “Please research your own churches actual history.” I would expect to get the history of anything by thoughtfully examining the actual records as well as the best available commentaries. How about you?

    As well as looking at LDS commentaries, I have studied the works of non-LDS scholars such as Thomas O’Dea and Jan Shipps and anti-Mormon pundits from Eber D. Howe through Jeremy Runnells. After discussing what I considered the best secondary sources, I wrote: “Now, I’ve provided my sources. From where did you get the information that has lead to your conclusions?”

    I understand that you dislike my LDS sources for LDS history. You are welcome to do so. If you have better secondary sources feel invited to specifically make the case for why they are superior to mine. However, instead you dismiss out-of-hand the sources I thoughtfully suggest that disagree with your preferred narrative while you still do Not provided sources of Any Type for your claims. LOL 🙂 You certainly are under no obligation to provide sources, but do Not expect to be taken particularly seriously by those who seriously study history until you do so. 🙂

  • Mormon sources aren’t known for their truthfulness… you know this as well as I do. So we can just agree to disagree that NOT MUCH credence should be given to any of that. If you ONLY looked at secondary sources and didn’t have a burning bosom full of heartfelt testimony to go along with it… maybe, just possibly you could see how someone might interpret the facts slightly to possibly way differently. I too study history… particularly LDS His-Story. Have you read the Joseph Smith Papers Council of 50 minutes? I’m too poor to give Deseret Publishing $50 dollars so if you get it and ship it to me after you are finished, I’ll pay for shipping and return it with some killer homemade cookies as soon as I’m done. Then we could have a conversation about something we had both read and interpreted with our “spiritual eyes”. Sounds fascinatingly intriguing. Makes one wonder what was “edited” though in the churches translation process. Because not all things we read from way back when to the present are necessarily “faith affirming” Because as we all know “Not all truths are useful
    ” I do appreciate your kind and thoughtful responses. Keep Calm and Morm on.

  • Well you do have opulent temples that exclude non members from seeing their children’s wedding and are primarily used to pray dead people into the faux fold. And City Center mall is quite nice I hear. Enjoy Conference and don’t forget to Keep Calm and Morm on.

  • There are no such people identified as Lamanites in North America. Whoever the Lamanites are, they certainly never existed in North America. The synopsis to 2 Nephi chapter 5 says ‘……., the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness……..’ Furthermore, in 2 Nephi 5; vs 21 we read ‘…..wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them’. If you believe that a person named Nephi witnessed the white Lamanites become black Lamanites then you have to accept that the change in skin colour happened. If anyone tries to give a subjective interpretation of The Book of Mormon, that person is in error and the First Presidency has warned members of the LDS church that a person who gives subjective interpretation of God’s word is perverting the scriptures. If the person known as Nephi did live and literally witnessed white people being cursed with a black skin in North America between 588 and 570 b.c. it is simply a matter of black and white.

  • You rather cleverly evaded the question. I didn’t ask you you think the Lamanites were, I asked who Joseph Smith thought the Lamanites were.

    And as you know — I can tell that you know, because (1) you evaded it, and (2) you behaved exactly as if it eviscerates your argument — which it does — Joseph Smith always thought the Lamanites were Native Americans.

    Not Africans. Not “blacks.” Native Americans, or “Indians” as they were known in his generation.

    In claiming that The Book of Mormon declares that the Lamanites were anyone else, you constitute an interpretive community of one.

    Well, it just so happens that the interpretive community that accepts the Book of Mormon as Scripture disagrees with you.

    Including, but not limited to, the General Authorities whose authority you have illegitimately and manipulatively attempted to marshal to your side.

    And as you ought to know — if you know a twentieth as much as you pretend to know — Native Americans/Lamanites were always considered eligible for the Priesthood.

  • My point is, very simply, that people like you are only interested in the “warts.” The “warts” are all you can see, and you see everything as a “wart” anyway.

    You sneeeeeeered about the Book of Mormon and the fact that the Church manages its temporal affairs well. The Book of Mormon is one of the Church’s greatest treasures, and wise financial management is not something of which normally functioning, rational people disapprove.

    Now you whine about the fact that the Church has moral standards; it’s not hard to see why that should hit rather close to home for you.

    The recent excommunications merely made official what was already real: Mister Dehlin has been an actively proselytizing apostate for years now, and Miz Kelly wasn’t far behind.

    And the better informed people are, the less likely they are to conclude that our faith is “obviously fraudulent.” That verdict is proof that your intense bigotry pre-determines your conclusions.

  • Contrary to your wishful thinking, that’s false. Rejecting polemically driven misinterpretations of the Book of Mormon is not the same as rejecting the Book of Mormon.

    Sorry.

  • Firstly, Joseph Smith didn’t have a clue regarding the origin of the indigenous tribes in North America. Smith merely incorporated the racist theories of other writers and used the American tribal people in his fantasy published under the title The Book of Mormon. Smith presented the Lamanites as being ‘a remnant of the house of Israel’ and his statement to that effect is ridiculous. Smith’s target audience doesn’t exist. Science has proven beyond doubt that the indigenous peoples of North America have no DNA connecting the tribal people to Israel. Your LDS leaders understood the need to change the introduction to the BOM in 2006 in the light of DNA evidence. We now read ‘The Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians’. In the case of the American Indians, essentially all of their mitrochondial lineage rveals no descent from Israelites. Secondly, there is no suggestion in the BOM that the Lamanites were considered as ‘Blacks’ as you crudely put it. It appears to me that your reference to people as ‘blacks’ is suggestive that you have an issue with a persons racial ethnicity. Nephi tells us that God cursed the Lamanites causing their white skin to become black. Why you make reference to ‘American/Lamanites were always considered eligible for the priesthood’ is strange as I have not made any reference to the American/Lamanites and the priesthood. As for the general authorities, what authority do they have? You may think that the general authorities have some kind of special authority, whatever that means, I consider the idea that anyone has a position of authority over anyone in religious matters to be an absurd notion. Obviously you are convinced that the LDS general authorities have authority. As for marshaling the authority of general authorities to strengthen my argument – it is in order for me to highlight the fact that in the LDS church there is no subjective interpretation of what the LDS leadership peddle as holy scripture.

  • FYI –
    1) Perhaps you might note, I previously wrote: “I would expect to get the history of anything by thoughtfully examining
    the actual records as well as the best available commentaries. How
    about you?” By the actual records, I certainly meant primary sources. Of course the majority of primary source material about LDS history comes from the LDS church. Quite a bit of that primary source material is now available for free on-line. By commentaries, I meant secondary sources.
    2) The Council of 50 Minutes are quite available and free on-line at the link I previously provided for you (http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/ ). In fact, those Joseph Smith Papers are one of the sources that you recently characterized as unimpressive church approved sources. Neither of us needs to buy the physical books unless we enjoy filling empty bookcase space. 🙂

    P.S. I have certainly used the Joseph Smith Papers site to carefully check primary sources as needed on more than one question to which I was replying.

  • Bill,

    You are entitled to your hostile anti-Mormon assumptions. Joseph Smith didn’t share them. The Latter-day Saints don’t share them. Only your fellow haters share them.

    Please note that “principal ancestors” means “among the ancestors.”

    Please also note that no less hostile an apostate than Simon Southerton admitted that, given the likely population of the Americas in 600 BC, the genetic footprint of the Lehi group would by now be undetectable. (Even if anyone did have an idea of what Levantine DNA from that period might look like; which nobody does.)

    Southerton then tried to rescue his position by adopting an interpretation of selected Book of Mormon texts that was driven entirely by the needs of his hostile agenda.

    Which is exactly what you have done.

    Your interpretation is not honest; but then, you never had any intention that it would be, did you?

    Incidentally, demanding that others obey principles you have no intention of obeying – such as following the counsel of Church leaders – is the textbook definition of hypocrisy.

    The fact that you are demanding that we follow an interpretation of their words that is not accepted by the Church is merely icing.

  • I’m sorry, but either the Book of Mormon is in apostasy or the current LDS Church is in apostasy. Which one?

    You see the Book of Mormon says that dark skin is a curse from God (which is racist).

    The current church says in an essay it was a theory of man and admits it was racist.

    You can’t have it both ways. So which is it? Please explain your position a little better if you disagree. Just saying I’m wrong doesn’t make me wrong. You have to prove it by providing evidence like I did.

    Remember, you have people who have never stepped foot in a Mormon church and if you can’t defend it properly, you’re just keeping people from wanting to join and you’re leading others out of the church, especially those who are struggling with their faith.

    But, if you can’t do it, then you were wrong in this debate the moment you typed any response towards me. And you have done more harm than good by engaging me.

    Come on… show me how I’m wrong. Don’t tell me… SHOW ME! I know it’s hard for you hard core Mormon believers, but prove me wrong!!!

  • “He read the book,” Proctor hissed, offering a low-five. “This guy is gold!”
    Cadeau appeared moments later carrying a sleek aluminum briefcase. After donning a pair of white cotton gloves, he carefully lifted out a small protective box made of clear acrylic and placed it on the desk. The giant lowered a shade against the unexpected sunshine then switched on a desk lamp. The object he’d gone to such lengths to protect was a book. The orange leather cover was scuffed and fading. Cadeau carefully opened it and pulled back the flyleaf.

    The title was handwritten in French. ‘Le Livre Secret de Madoc. The Secret Book of Madoc.

    “America may be the land of the free today,” he explained, “but centuries ago it was an asset of kings and queens. Royalty runs on debt and riches from the new world had already shifted the balance of power in Europe. During the late fifteen-hundreds, Elizabethan Empire builders sought to assert their Title Royal, or legal entitlement, to the American continent and invalidate historic Spanish and Holy Roman claims by precedent of an early Welsh explorer named Prince Madoc.

    “The Madoc or Madog tradition was known throughout Europe and the New World, but a high-ranking adviser to Queen Elizabeth, a shadowy Welsh mystic and esoteric occultist named Dr. John Dee, was first to suggest exploiting the tale for its political value. The Secret Book of Madoc details the travels and trials of a fabled Welsh Prince and is said to have been translated from engraved golden and brass plates by Dee himself. It asserts a prior claim to America pre-dating the planting of Ferdinand’s flag by over three centuries. The exquisite object you see before you,” Cadeau continued, “is a work of historical fiction and a fraud attributed to a legendary kook.

    “The Secret Book of Madoc is the chronicle of Prince Madoc – an adventurer and colonizer who fled his ancestral lands to escape the inter-family genocide ignited by his brothers upon the death of their father, Owen Gwynedd, King of North Wales. Myth and misinformation have obscured the Madoc legend throughout the centuries, but this much is accepted by scholars and historians: in 1170 A.D., a prince named Madoc relinquished his claim on the Welsh crown and set out across darkened seas, sailing under the red cross of the Templar Knights and armed with a Templar chart and compass. Madoc made at least two successful Atlantic crossings during his lifetime. Prior to his departure Prince Madoc had served as the Grand Master of The Welsh Rosicrucian Order, the Cambriae.

    “Elizabethan England enjoyed grassroots support for their Madoc claims due to the many documented reports of mysterious blue-eyed, pale-skinned native Americans said to be speaking in dialectic Welsh – a misnomer supported by Sir Walter Raleigh and other notables of his day. The existence of the Mandan tribe has never been a matter of dispute among historians, nor is there any shortage of information about John Dee. And although events intervened to prevent Dr. Dee’s scheme from being realized,” Cadeau said, “hand-written copies of his Secret Book of Madoc survive to this day – one famously transcribed by the pen of Sir Isaac Newton and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Arsenal Library, dated January 17, 1822. The certificate is signed by no less a light than Charles Nodier, noted librarian and legendary Napoleonic foe.”

    I couldn’t speak for Proctor, but I wasn’t tracking.

    “I believe you’ll find Newton’s personal copy predates the publication of The Book of Mormon by eight years, though Dee’s original was first written in the mid sixteenth century.”
    Cadeau took compassion on our bewilderment.
    “I only bring this to your attention because much of what is found in The Book of Mormon is also contained nearly word for word in Dee’s Secret Book of Madoc.”
    Proctor and I eyed each other.
    “If you’ll open to Nephi, 1,1,1, I can provide an example.”
    Proctor corrected our host. “It’s pronounced First Nee-Fi.”
    “Allow me to translate,” Cadeau said. We followed along in our books as he read along in his.
    I, Madoc, born of goodly parents, was taught somewhat in the learning of my father, nevertheless, having seen many afflictions, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days as a vagabond upon the face of the earth.
    The words in 1 Nephi were virtually identical.
    “That can’t be right,” Proctor countered. “The book’s a fraud. Right? You said so yourself.”
    “Yes,” Cadeau agreed. “A fraud that would seem to pre-date the publication of Joseph Smith’s famous book by a century and a half. I’ve been interested to see if you gentlemen might be able to clear the matter up for me.”
    “You’re right,” Elder Proctor conceded. “That’s a bender.”
    Cadeau glanced down toward me. “There’s more if you’ll hear it.”
    Proctor appeared as calm as a dawn in Eden, so I followed his lead.
    “Perhaps you’d be kind enough to read along in Mormon 6:6.”
    I opened to the proper page on the first try and held up my scriptures to prove it. Cadeau set his book on the desktop and rotated it toward us.
    “Here’s what it says:
    Behold, I, Madoc, began to wax old, and seeing the struggle of my people against the people of Coztlan, I made this record of the plates of Atl, and hid them up in the bowels of the hill beneath the temple of Uznal, save the plates of my people Cymry which I give unto my son, Mor Awnyry, that he and his descendants might forever know their source.”
    “Mor Awnyry?” I exclaimed. “Moronri? There’s just no way. That’s practically Moroni.”
    Cadeau closed the book. “Yes, intriguing isn’t it? Were we to read further, you’d find that the indegenious peoples called Madoc by the name: Mor Mywn – Great One in one dialect, and He who crossed the great water in another. Mormyn either way.”
    “Mormon.”
    The giant agreed. “Having now studied The Book of Mormon as well, I can tell you the two accounts overlay each other in several aspects and must derive from a common source.”
    A wall clock ticked in the silence like a time bomb.
    “Remarkable parallels at very least,” he said. “Bear in mind, this proves nothing. For all the world knows, the ink on my edition of The Secret Book of Madoc is still wet.”
    “Exactly,” I agreed.
    “But it isn’t wet.” Cadeau carefully returned the book to it’s case. “This volume came to us by the most direct means possible and has remained in our uninterrupted control since that time.”
    “Who’s to say your Secret Book of Madoc isn’t a phony concocted by enemies of the early church to discredit the Prophet?”
    Cadeau nodded. “Please don’t misunderstand my intention here. I’m making no effort to convince you. You’re correct. All writing is fiction and words are the weapons of art. I can’t verify this or any book’s authenticity, although I’m personally satisfied with its provenance as pertains to our ownership of it. That having been said, I just find these verbatim passages from a long-dead fraud included in Mr. Smith’s book bedeviling. That’s all.”
    I reacted to the challenge emotionally. “Bedeviling may apply more accurately to your book, sir. I have just as much faith in my prophet as you have in your provenance. You think it’s impossible for the Devil to write a book of his own?”
    Cadeau answered with tranquility. “I understand you are duty bound by your faith to discredit all inconvenient revelation, but your devil argument is weak and can just as easily be turned back on you.”
    “Cool book, though.” Proctor was turning the pages with gloved fingers.
    The gardener expressed polite concession and clapped his hands to herald a new moment. “Well, it seems I’ve completed my explanation of the spurious origins of my mysterious book. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to reciprocate.”

    http://www.2byevanlord.com

  • That website sucks. Finding the Gospel Topics essays are a great example of the subterfuge. I want a link to the whole book.

  • Didn’t the church or organization carefully edit the J.S. Papers though, Wayne?

    I seem to recall hearing about a documentary where they spent months editing before releasing them to the general public?

  • Hello Kiwi57 – always good to receive your replies. You certainly are rattled by my remarks. With regard to Simon Southerton’s research, you can read on his blog the following statement, ‘In the years since the publication of LOSING A LOST TRIBE much more research has been published specifically on MesoAmerican populations, which are a subset of Central American Populations. We now know the mtDNA lineages of over 1700 MesoAmericans. The mtDNA evidence suggests that Native MesoAmericans, like all other Native Americans, are largely descended from Asian ancestors. The very small number of non – Asian lineages that are found are almost certainly the result of post – Columbus admixture as they belong to lineage families that are most common in Europe or Africa’. Furthermore, the following research will be useful to –
    ‘Upper Paleolithic genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans’
    http://www.nature.com/journal/v505/n748/full/nature12736.html
    ‘The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in Western Montana’http://www.nature.com/native/journal/v506/n7487/full/nature13025.html’ Late Pleistocene human skeleton and mtDNA link PaleoAmericans and modern native Americans’ http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6185/750
    I am at a loss to understand what you mean by the staement ‘The fact that you are demanding that we follow an interpretation of their wordsthat isnot accepted by the church is merely icing’ what on earth do you mean? You make no sense at all. I agree, I have no intention of obeying any so called LDS church principles, but, if you elect yourself to follow LDS church principles then do so and do not imply that the individual referenced as NEPHI did not literally mean that the Lamanites were not cursed with a skin of blackness. Nephi clearly states that the Lamanites were cursed with a skin of blackness and any other interpretation is purely personal and LDS members are not to offer personal interpretation of scripture. As I don’t offer personal interpretation of so called holy scripture I cannot be a hypocrite – if I believed that a person by the name of Nephi recorded in holy scripture that Lamanites were cursed with a skin of blackness I would not imply, as you have in an early reply, that skin of blackness means something else. If you are a member of the LDS church you must not offer a personal interpretation of holy scripture.

  • Bill,

    You asserted:

    “Nephi clearly states that the Lamanites were cursed with a skin of blackness and any other interpretation is purely personal and LDS members are not to offer personal interpretation of scripture.”

    Neat. Tidy.

    Also: manipulative and dishonest.

    Your own interpretation is “purely personal.” Furthermore, it is entirely dictated by your hate-based agenda to attack the Church of Jesus Christ.

    As is your attempt to close off any discussion about what the passage in question actually means. That attempt is utterly illegitimate.

    The expression “skin of blackness” is assumed to mean the same as “black skin,” but that assumption is not in the text.

    The modern American usage of “black” and “white” for skin pigmentation is not lexically correct: “white” skin varies from pink to beige, while “black” skin takes on various shades of brown. IOW, that usage reflects the needs of modern American culture.

    It just so happens that Nephi wasn’t a modern American. He was a West Semite, and his cultural usages of “black” and “white” were rather different.

    See Joel 2:6; Daniel 12:10.

    Furthermore, there are a number of Book of Mormon references to this mark, and they’re not nearly as simple as you’d like to pretend. (Or maybe you just don’t know.)

    Alma 3:
    4 And the Amlicites were distinguished from the Nephites, for they had marked themselves with red in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites; nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites.

    5 Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins, and also their armor, which was girded about them, and their bows, and their arrows, and their stones, and their slings, and so forth.

    6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

    Note that “the skins of the Lamanites” in verse 6 contextually refers to the skin girdle described in verse 5, not their own epidermis.

    And now we come back to:

    Alma 3:
    13 Now we will return again to the Amlicites, for they also had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads.

    14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

    18 Now the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves in their foreheads; nevertheless they had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them.
    And thus it is.
    I don’t expect you to show either the honesty or the courtesy to respond to the substance of what I’ve posted here. But you’ve been told.

  • Kiwi57 It is sad that you are consumed with paranoid ideas about someone who criticizes Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon. The terminology you use eg, ‘Manipulation’ ‘Dishonesty’ ‘Hate – based’ and ‘Illegitimate’ reveals that you are someone who finds criticism of your religious beliefs very disturbing. Your response to criticism is very much an emotional response. You do argue from the text of The Book of Mormon as your argument given above demonstrates, but, the first part of your defense is an explanation as to what being ‘Black’ meant in modern American usage. What I say in reply to your explanation of what being ‘Black’ meant as used in The Book of Mormon is this, Joseph Smith wrote The Book of Mormon for an audience in the year 1830,and that audience understood perfectly well what being cursed with ‘a skin of blackness’ meant. The Book of Mormon has no relevance outside of 1830 America. It is unthinkable that The Book of Mormon could be written and accepted in modernity because people are not ignorant, only ignorant if a person chooses to be, or is born in a set of circumstances where an individual has very little chance of education. Such was the environment in 1830 where the Smith family lived when The Book of Mormon was published. People were proficient in the Bible and understood well enough the ideas taken from the Bible that were infused with folk magic, racial theory and speculation about the origin of the indigenous tribes of North America. But, we are not ignorant in the 21st century. It is sheer nonsense to hold on to the fantasy world of The Book of Mormon which was created for an audience of the year 1830. It is dreadful that a person becomes totally entrenched in religious dogma to the extent that when a piece of writing can be shown to be the product of a fertile imagination, that person closes down, becomes defensive to the point where the person will not accept reasonable criticism. If we stick to the text of The book of Mormon to argue a case, as you have mainly done, then we reach an impasse because the terminology in The Book of Mormon has no relevance outside of 1830 America. Similarly, Joseph Smith’s ‘Book of Abraham’ is a total absurdity. Smith is wrong on every point regarding the meaning of the papyri he used as the basis for the Book of Abraham. Ask yourself, if Smith is totally wrong regarding his translation of the Egyptian papyri, what else was he wrong about. As for the science of DNA with regard to the origin of the tribal people of North America, the science is demonstrably correct regarding where the tribal people came from. It is the same DNA testing that detects rapists, murderers; it is the same DNA tests that confirm the guilt or innocence of a person; it is the same DNA tests that the LDS members rely on when a member traces their genealogical origin. If the DNA testing is correct and accepted by the legal system and is likewise accepted as reliable and correct by LDS members tracing their lineage, then, why is DNA test evidence not regarded as reliable and correct when it comes to the origin of tribal people in North America? Why is the DNA evidence regarding the origin of the tribal people of North America dismissed when the results of DNA tests prove a different origin for the tribal people as stated in The Book of Mormon? If God cursed a group of people named Lamanites and gave them a ‘skin of blackness’ God must have also changed the Lamanite DNA as there is no DNA evidence that shows the tribal people of North America having any Hebrew DNA.

  • Bill,

    Your amateur psychoanalysis is not especially compelling.

    Nor is your recycling of rather pointless DNA-based arguments that do not serve to refute anything the Book of Mormon actually asserts.

    They only refute interpretations which, by now, are largely held by those who find them convenient for polemical purposes. Like your good self.

    You began by demanding that I accept your interpretation because a person named Nephi, who lived in the 6th Century BC, reported something.

    You now insist that I instead accept your assumption that Joseph Smith was making it all up.

    Thank you for admitting that your argument has failed.

  • “Denominated God was made up,” she said flatly. “Conjured up out of thin air – like Smurfs and Batman. God was created as a control protocol – a divide and conquer strategy all religions and nations are serving w/out knowing it”
    “Batman isn’t made up”
    She giggled. “God is an ancient trick clever people pulled on the simple people to get them to do their chores for them. Now those simple ppl are dust and their descendants are trapped in a lie needlessly ripping our world apart. But don’t pull down your churches and stone your prophets. They knew not what they did and still don’t. The self-serving have acted predictably and the holy have acted honorably , but both have done so in the service of superior beings – not supreme beings.”
    “So, there is a God? A God God, I mean. A guy that’s God?”
    “Today’s God was intelligently crafted to get Human Beings to do things they have no business doing – and would never have done in a million years had Mankind been left to it’s own devices. God is a complex, long-term program w/ a single objective.”
    My posture expressed my incomprehension perfectly.
    She smiled. “Let me ask you something, Elder. You don’t have to agree to any of what I’m about to suggest, but suspend your impulse to shut me down until you’ve heard me out. SIMPLY LISTEN TO MY WORDS AND PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR BODY REACTS TO THEM. FEEL WHAT YOU”RE FEELING. The first thought or feeling you have is your truth and the first words you speak will be a lie. Can you try that?”
    “Sounds like a riddle”
    “Liar. It’s easier than a riddle,” she said “Answer me this, Elder Ladd. If the God in your minds eye – the image of the divine taught in churches – turned out to be a falsehood like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny and YOU had proven it conclusively to yourself, would you remain personally bound to that God’s judgments? Would you continue to aggressively defend that God to your friends and co-workers? Would you enforce that Go’s harsh will to your children and spouse? Would you continue to conduct yourself according to that God’s laws – KNOWING FULL WELL that there was no more substance to Him than Rudolph or Peter Cottontail? Would you do battle with your brother over the attentions and affections of that God?”
    She stopped and smiled into me . “OR would you walk away, JOYOUSLY FREE of guilt- inhaling your first easy breath and feeling GREAT about yourself and those around you for the first time?
    “Walk away from God? Never happen.”
    “Liar.”
    My whole life centered on God. All of my relationships depended on Him. God was an old friend. My almost certain damnation aside (lol) I didn’t want to give Him up. Or did I? Someone’s voice was talking in my mind, but it didn’t sound like mine. She WAS RIGHT. I WAS LYING.
    “You don’t have to start your life over, Elder Ladd. Attend the same meetings and pay the same tithing if it pleases you. Maintain the same habits and socialize w/ the same friends, but do so in peace and in freedom – safe in the knowledge that there’s no vengeful accountant watching and waiting for you to slip up so He can damn you. Pay attention, brethren. See a new GOD in your church, in the churches of others and in everything around you – a GOD you could never offend. With this vision in your heart, follow your cherished teachings out of LOVE rather than fear or obligation. Your new vision of GOD provides all the spiritual beliefs w/ NONE of the condemnation. Would MORE JOY in your life and in your relationships really be so bad a thing? is giving up your differences such a high price to pay for Heaven on earth for you and everybody else?”
    She lost herself a moment.
    “What if that were true, Elder? What if proof were to surface that conclusively discredited the God of today’s religions? Would you hold on tightly to ancient falsehoods? Would you cling for dear life to your parents beliefs and habits? Or would you forsake home, family and sacrifice all else in the service of your higher truth?

    Brigitte reared up. Her carefully tussled hair inhaled the firelight like a halo. “What is your truth, Elder Ladd?”
    I had two: The truth of my honor and the truth of my erection, which was now priapistic to the point of actual pain, and impossible to disguise due to it’s size. Liar.
    “I’m going to do you a favor,” she said bluntly. “But I require something from you in return. I’ll tell you a truth about your planet’s denominational God nobody knows. But you have to be naked to hear it.”
    “Naked?”
    “Are you with me, Elder Ladd?”
    I laughed, despite the knob thumping in my throat. “How about I tell you the truth about God while you put on a robe? Are you with me? You’re a married woman, Brigitte. What’s your husband going to think of this…idea of yours?”
    “Cadeau?”
    I coughed violently. “Cadeau is your husband? But that’s impossible. You’re married to the old guy with the car. You and Cadeau can’t be married. The two of you are nothing alike.”
    She crossed to the desk and found a lighter. “That’s the reason the two of us have worked marvelously well together.” The woman couldn’t hide her satisfaction in speaking his name. “Cadeau and I keep our commitments to each other.”
    “Looks like it.”
    “She laughed. “Sex is not our issue.”
    Brigitte settled in next to me on the couch. I slid over to the opposite edge and straightened my tie.
    “There are four billion people on earth, Elder Ladd. Twelve of them know for a certainty what I’m prepared to tell you. It’s the biggest secret ever kept on this planet – yours for the simple act of standing in your truth without shame.” She lit up. “This offer will not be repeated by me and you’ll never hear it from them.”
    A clock was ticking somewhere in the smoke. I had to have answers. That was obvious. I had to know about Gods and men and devils. I had to know now. And it wasn’t like I would be the first naked man she’d ever been alone with in a room. She’d seen better. People are naked all the time in Sweden with no problem. She might even be a doctor.
    “I am not having sex with you, Brigitte.” I undid the top button on my crisp white Seidensticker shirt. She laughed as my tie caught on my brow like Nephi’s headband.
    “Would you like to know where those markings come from, Elder Ladd?”
    I quickly peeled my garments out of sight and tucked them into my trousers.
    “They’re part of a sacred temple ritual.”
    “Yes,” she replied. “Several. They’re also elements of an ancient corporate identity symbol.”
    “A logo? What are you talking about?”
    “Elder Ladd, have you heard the term As Above, So Below?”
    I shook my head.
    “Really? that surprises me,” she said. “It’s a common philosophical tenet placing the totality of the universe into a seed tinier than a sperm cell. It also means on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
    I slid my belt out of the loops and held it aloft like a snake with its head crushed.
    “If the Gods of Heaven were to describe your world in two words, Elder Ladd, what do you suppose those two words would be?”
    “Work and glory?”
    “Real estate,” she corrected, setting her jaw. “Property – legally acquired and contractually secured with all incumbent writs, privileges, provisos, and provisions assigned, adjudicated, witnessed, enforced, exercised, transferred, and reserved. Reciprocal trade agreements. Mineral rights. Anthropological rights. Bio-genetic rights. Development rights. Territorial rights. Technological rights. Labor and delivery rights. Artistic and architectural rights. Research and development rights. Intellectual property rights. Construction rights. Totum pro parte. Lessors and Lessees. Royalties and residuals. Bosses, managers and employees. Profit and salvation, Elder Ladd. Planet earth is a factory town. As above, so below. You’ve read of kings and imagined great wealth, but would you care to guess who controls the whole ball?”
    “God and Jesus?”
    Bigger.
    “The Beatles?”
    She laughed. “Earth is the property of a consortium – a group of mortal individuals who are very good at what they do – members of a dysfunctional family enterprise that regards the management of Mankind a cost of goods sold, not a work and a glory.”
    I held on tightly to my pants.
    “Uhn, uh, uh, Elder Ladd. Keep your commitments.” With a determined tug, she pulled my trousers down to my shoes where they pooled like dark shackles. She appraised me with raised eyebrows as I held on tightly.
    “Wait a second,” I said. “So, earth is an asset and God is a company? That’s nut’s.”
    “As above,” she exclaimed. “Elder Ladd, Ezekiel saw the wheel. The little green men are out there. Why would the dynamics of intergalactic and interplanetary co-existence be any different than intercontinental co-existence, interstate co-existence, interpersonal co-existence, or inter-dimensional co-existence? The sick exist among the sane on earth as they do in heaven. The lambs foster beauty while the lions wreak progress – just like here at home. All perfectly legal.”
    “Legal?”
    “Elder Ladd, if NASA were to colonize Mars, do you honestly think they would just repack their things , light up their engines and go off-planet at the first sight of a few Kippies? Certainly not. They’d deal with them. They’d master them. It’s no different in heaven than it is on earth.”
    “Kippies?”
    “Want to know how things are done on other worlds, Elder Ladd? Look around you. The players are the same. The oppressed become the oppressors. We’ve all been conquerors and we’ve all been conquered. Powerful strangers arrive in nicer cars and a population falls to its knees – dancing at the sight of shiny beads while pacts are drafted and formalized without their knowledge or consent – contract that span eons enslave generations. And then, ELDER EWAN THEO LADD, one day you are pulled from your siesta and issued a plow, hammer and a tag. Once your power is given, it’s gone – and reclaiming it is like pulling ink from paper.”
    “Pacts with prophets?”
    “And kings. And agents. And assigns. And subordinates. And rogues. And saints. Your gods are creators of universes, Elder Ladd. They’re players of giant pieces in a game that keeps Humanity digging deeper and deeper holes for them – massing their treasure behind ever-thicker walls, protected with bigger and smarter guns. But those vaults have retractable roofs. One day you wake up and your gold is gone, your planet isn’t worth saving and your people have had it with each other. All that’s left is the mop up and the removal of the evidence. This is how its done on other worlds,” Brigitte laughed, but there was no humor in it.
    “Removal of what evidence?”
    “The evidence that mankind was ever here in the first place. When the task is complete, you’ll trigger the wars you’re inspired to start and detonate the bombs you were instructed to stockpile. And on a lovely, rainy spring day, Humanity and all of your splendid achievements will be swept away without a whimper like a box of magical ants.”
    “They’re allowed to do that?”
    “No. They’re not. It’s illegal. Humanity has to do it for them. Your destruction has to be considered an Act of Man. But the result is the same. You’re gone, your kids are dead and Mankind will not be coming back for a third time. The new tenants are already picking out curtains for the infrastructure you’ll leave behind when this is all over. They’ll sort your rubble carefully. Your pretty planet will be sold, subdivided, reassigned or redeveloped into income property like a resort – or a penal colony – or a mine. A Devil’s Island either way. That’s God’s eternal plan for his children. And you will make that vision a reality because of your faith in a God who isn’t GOD and never was.”
    “They can’t be allowed to do that. We’ve got to do something.”
    “Destiny is at your doorstep and it’s you doing the knocking, Elder Ladd. No one is going to come riding in on a flaming chariot to save you from yourselves. It’s illegal.”
    “My God.”
    “The clock is ticking, Ewan. Awake and arise.”
    “Arise?”
    “Stand up and see.”
    “See what?”
    “That your planet has been programmed to self-destruct. Religion is the fuse and God is a lit match. Your gods are not on your side, Elder Ladd. Scripture was written to conscript the human spirit, not exalt or liberate it. The Book of Revelation was given to ensure the Apocalypse, not prevent it.”
    “What?”
    “Visions of your own annihilation are ecstatically preached from every pulpit and pinnacle on the planet because those visions have the power to become form. Fear creates as effectively as love. The power of prayer has created your desperate world today, not the power of Satan. You’re worshipping Armageddon, not a God of love. And Hell is the price on your head – a hole as broad and deep as the pyramids are high – a ramp for all four estates to slide tribute into, my little Paccia. Hell gorges itself on credit cards and bombs. Consumerism and war keep the mines operating and smelting at full capacity millennium after millennium. The fruit of every Human endeavor will eventually find its way into the maw of this beast until its had its fill.”
    “Then what happens?”
    “Then you are stepped on, Elder Ladd. Stepped on and brushed away. And no miracle under heaven can save you from that fate at this late hour, save one.”
    “One what?”
    “One saving grace.”
    “Name it,” I begged. “What do we do?”
    Emotion stung my eyes. “I’m a guy. I want to fix it.”
    Brigitte laughed. “You really want to fix your planet?” She motioned toward my underwear. “Let go of the iron rod, Elder. Take a stand for the family of Man.”
    I stepped free of the tangle of white without hesitation and faced her.
    “GOD isn’t found out there.” She moistened the pads of her fingers in the sweat of her body. “GOD is you. Feel GOD here,” she said, touching my heart and throat. “Speak GOD here. And here.” She touched the center of my brow and pulled her fingers across my eyelids. “See GOD here.” She brushed my ears, my chest and navel. “Hear GOD here. Honor GOD in all races, all faces and all places. You must see GOD to be GOD.” She stood with her arms relaxed at her side and closed her eyes. “Now, Elder Ladd. Do me.”
    I wiped the shine off my temple and reached out to her. “See GOD here,” I said bringing eager fingers to her body. When I’d finished, she turned and bent toward the fire.
    “You’ve experienced gods,” she said. “You’ve unraveled God. If it is your choice to be GOD, extend your hands.”
    I posed with arms outstretched like Vitruvius. She brought two glowing coals from the fire in a single tong. I gritted my teeth at the smell of their heat.
    “With your acceptance.”
    I nodded and bit down.
    She placed a coal in each hand. They spat and sizzled as they gorged themselves on me. The pain was indescribable.
    “Let go of everything that isn’t GOD.”
    I gripped the coals and screamed. “But everything is GOD.”
    “Everything?”
    “The pain is GOD,” I cried. “The coal is GOD! My flesh is GOD! The smoke is God. It’s all GOD!”
    “Drop everything GOD isn’t.”
    “There’s NOTHING to drop!”
    “DROP IT. ELDER LADD! FOR GOD”S SAKE. LET IT GO! NOW! YOUR HANDS ARE ON FIRE! EWAN. I BEG YOU. LET GO!”
    “I CAN”T,” I shrieked. “I CAN”T!’
    “Then change it.”
    Cool water splashed out of my hands.
    “TAG,” she laughed. “You’re it.” The woman couldn’t have seemed less ruffled. I sniffed back the tears that remained, but my hands felt fine. There were no marks on my body and no pain of burning anywhere in my memory.
    “Tag?”
    “Thou art GOD,” she smiled. “You’re it. Only works in English.” She tossed her hair to one side. “Now you know the difference between god, God and GOD. One is true, one is a lie and the other is both of them at the same time. Do you understand?”
    “Yes,” I said. “The gods of scripture were advanced mortal beings. Almighty God is a lie they told to manipulate us. GOD is all lies and all truth as oneness. GOD isn’t looking down on us. GOD is looking out through us.”
    The woman was satisfied. “Would you care to know what the first free Humans were told by the gods who were their stewards in mighty Eridu, the first permanent encampment of gods on earth and first great city of Men?”
    “Eridu?”
    “The word means outpost. It’s the name the gods assigned to this planet and its inhabitants. Earth in English, Erda in German. Aarde in Dutch. Dharti in Hindi. Norway, Jord. And so on.”
    I nodded.
    “There was a time when the children of Men were encouraged by their gods to eat, drink and be merry with each other,” she said, “to honor and deal fairly one to another. Your life spans are so precious and short, the benevolent beings explained. Fill your labors with bliss and every task of Man will be performed joyfully. View all things around you as part of you – like the fingers and toes of your own body. Respect all life. See GOD in every path – the wide and the narrow, the crooked and the straight. You can never go astray because no part of GOD is ever lost. These insights worked miracles among Men. The achievement of Sumer is an example of Mankind’s limitless potential when judgment and fear no longer have a stranglehold.” She leaned back, turning her body toward the fire. Her lines formed a classic silhouette that flowed into a tip like an ancient pen. “Be nice to read that in a Bible sometime, don’t you think?”
    I sighed. “Where’s Atlas when you need him?”
    “No one’s asking you to change the world, Elder Ladd. You only have to change how you view yourself. That’s the beauty of it.”
    I settled down on the Persian behind her. Brigitte draped a long, smooth leg over mine. She had my other full attention now.
    “You are just drowning in choices, Elder Ladd.”
    As she spoke, my libido ignited. I was compelled toward Cadeau’s woman like a compass needle to lodestone. I flared into a ready torch as my fingers broke the stalemate, tracing a hungry line from her shoulder, down her arm, over her fingers and into her abdomen where it nested greedily. Her forehead dipped in agreement as I worked her panties free.
    “I honor the GOD within you, Ewan.”
    “I honor the GOD within you, Elki.”
    Then the drums started pounding. She pushed me onto my back and straddled my chest with a grin of deepening anticipation. “See?” she laughed. “Your eyes are opened already.”
    I stared into the crosshairs. “Elki is your name?”
    “Truth,” she declared. “Spoken fluently. Truth is the native tongue of GOD. Want more of it?”
    I laughed out loud. “Give it to me, Elki.”
    “Here’s a question for an actor,” she said. “Which character in a play sins against the story by performing his or her role? Is it the butler or the maid? Is it the evil villain?”
    “Those are the show stealers,” I replied. “Evil drives the conflict and character development. The villain gets the best lines.”
    “Does the actor portraying the villain personally bear the sins committed by his character in the play? Is he forcibly detained by the audience and arrested afterward for his theatrical crimes?”
    “The villain takes his bows with the hero.”
    “So,” she said. “The villain is a hero of the play. His plots and schemes inspire the higher virtues the white knight uses to defeat him in the end?”
    I nodded.
    “Which would you say is the most important to the success of the production, Ewan? The antagonist or the protagonist? The performers or the audience?”
    “They’re identical. Neither can exist without the other.”
    She smiled. “Our existence is exactly that. It’s participatory, anticipatory, and exculpatory. Each individual is both performer and audience member. Each of us is hero and villain, observer and observed.”
    “Anticipatory?”
    “What we envision, we create. You see what you believe. We write the script moment to moment with every thought we give energy and emotion to. When we consciously realize we’re doing it,” she grinned, “that’s when the fun begins. The play begins within the play.”
    “Exculpatory?”
    “We’re all innocent – without shame, guilt or trespass. No exceptions. It has to apply to everyone in order to be applied to anyone.”
    “More,” I demanded. “More of this. I get this.”
    “The best thing individual characters can do for the success of the drama is to bring their truest selves onstage for each performance. That’s why you must perform only the role your heart selects for you, and go all out with it. Steal the show. Celebrate your uniqueness. Don’t try to standardize anything. Believe me, Ewan, a court of kings is yawn for yawn as boring and tedious as a ship of fools.”
    “One kid on a see-saw is no playground.” Branson had always said that.
    “Perfect analogy,” she grinned. “Diversity and opposition add the richness and action to mortal life.”
    “If we’re all just actors in a cosmic…mortality play, then what is sin? Is it still possible to sin against what we are and what we’re doing? Against the GOD we are?”
    Her lips pursed. “Sin is a lie. It’s an ancient verb that meant to miss the mark, not to fall from grace. All archers sin before hitting the hearts of their targets the first time. Sin creates champions. It’s the path to GOD.”

  • I understand the social benefits of going to church, Kiwi, but the bottom line is in the money that you’ve given the organization throughout your life as well as your family’s. And in the amount of time out of our lives that we lost.

    Can you imagine all the lost energy wasted trying to defend somebody else’s beliefs who cannot be supported???

    It would be different if it were for real but… 🙁 it’s not.

  • I understand the social benefits of going to church, Kiwi, but the bottom line is in the money that you’ve given the organization throughout your life as well as your family’s. And in the amount of time out of our lives that we lost.
    Can you imagine all the lost energy wasted trying to defend somebody else’s beliefs who cannot be supported???
    It would be different if it were for real but… 🙁 it’s not.

  • Taking into consideration the mores and norms of LDS culture, your reaction to any perceived criticism of The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith is abnormal. I have met many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints and none of those members react to challenges to their beliefs in the manner in which you do. You never acknowledge the power of The Holy Ghost as a testator with regard to the truth of what you put forward. You rely entirely on self with regard to the literal meaning of scripture. The LDS members that I know always profess The Holy Ghost is the authority with regard to understanding the scriptures. The power of The Holy Ghost is nowhere acknowledged in your arguments. Why? After reading your replies to my statements and after reading your replies to the statements of other contributors to this website a clear pattern can been seen in your replies and I list them as I perceive it; you have an inflated sense of your importance; you need to be regarded as always correct; you spend a lot of time trying to expose the imagined weakness in others; you dismiss the opinions and arguments of other people. In fact, you exhibit the classic traits of a narcissist. I suspect that behind your mask of ultra confidence lies a fragile self esteem.

  • Again, your attempt to divert the discussion to make it about me is as clear an admission as I expect to get from you that your argument has failed.

    Since the Witness of the Holy Ghost is not transmissible, I never try to argue from it. It’s as simple as that.

    Your amateur psychoanalysis does not improve with practice.

    And someone who indulges in bitter and angry venting; who declares the Church to be “morally bankrupt” because it has moral standards; and who cannot even bring himself to mention LDS ecclesiastical titles without inserting “so called” in front of them really ought not to be raising the subject of emotional content.

    Just a thought.

  • And in support of your anti-Mormonism, you offer what? Long, rambling cut-and-pastes from the rather poorly bit of fiction you are trying to promote?

  • You are entrenched in a ‘Win – Lose’ dialogue with others. Why is it that you can’t engage with anyone other than on a ‘Win – Lose’ basis? Why is it that you can’t understand that I don’t acknowledge anyone’s ecclesiastical title as valid?
    The label ‘General Authority’ is meaningless to me, you may regard ‘General Authority’ as having a significance, to me the label is meaningless. As for myself being an ‘Amateur psychoanalyst’ I am neither an ‘Amateur’ or a ‘Psychoanalyst’. As for the influence of The Holy Ghost as a testator of truth, I take this opportunity to bring to your attention the following statement, ‘ he ( The Holy Ghost ) is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God’
    ( see Doctrines of Salvation Volume 1, by Joseph Fielding Smith, published by Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1954, p.40 ). J F Smith is your ‘Authority’ regarding the operation of The Holy Ghost. You must never assume an ‘Authority’ whereby you set the limits regarding the way in which The Holy Ghost operates on humankind. J F Smith has made it clear that The Holy Ghost ‘is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God’ therefore The Holy Ghost will testify to me if you invoke the power of The Holy Ghost as a witness as to the truthfulness of anything you say in righteousness. I am certain that if you make comments on this website that are in harmony with the teachings of The Book of Mormon, The Holy Ghost will testify to me of the truthfulness of your comments. It occurs to me that you do not understand the mission and power of The Holy Ghost as taught by an ‘Authority’ in the LDS church. As for the ‘Moral Bankruptcy’ of the LDS church – the founder of the LDS church was morally bankrupt – Joseph Smith was a serial abuser of women; his wife; his associates and held others in utter contempt. Smith was the template for the morally bankrupt leaders who assumed control of the LDS church. The same ‘Authority’ who I have quoted regarding The Holy Ghost, was convicted of unlawful co-habitation and fined $300 in 1906. Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, took a plural wife in 1901 and risked charges of perjury by submitting an affidavit in which he swore that he had taken no additional wives since the Manifesto. When Gordon B Hinckley was asked by Larry King on the Larry King Live television show if the practice of polygamy by Latter – Day Saints was a doctrine of the church, Hinckley replied, ‘I think that it is not doctrinal’ when Doctrine & Covenants section 132 clearly is the ‘Authority’ for the requirement that members of the LDS church enter into polygamous marriages. Joseph Smith revealed that God will ‘bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world……..wives….’ D&C 132: 55. Polygamy was illegal when first established by Joseph Smith and was illegal in Utah under Mexican law and after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, polygamy was illegal in Utah under United States law. Polygamy did not stop until two decades after the 1890 Manifesto. The leaders of the LDS church, beginning with Joseph Smith, are guilty of law breaking with regard to the practice of polygamy and as such are morally bankrupt. In Utah, in 1862, under the leadership of Brigham Young, the leaders and members of the LDS church chose to ignore the law, and ignore their own Articles of Faith and ignored what was then Doctrine & Covenants section 101. Brigham Young continued to openly teach polygamy and later it was required to be practiced if a man was to have the best of eternal kingdoms, and also to have senior earthly positions in the church. I can only think that the morally corrupt leaders of the LDS church were being influenced by a different ‘Holy Ghost’ than ‘The Holy Ghost’ recorded in The New Testament. Should you wish to make comments as to what a ‘Skin of Blackness’ meant as stated by Nephi in The Book of Mormon, I will be glad to receive your comments.

  • Your comment ‘Since the witness of the Holy Ghost is not transmissible, I never try to argue from it. It’s as simple as that’ is worthy of special attention. If what you write is true, ‘Since the witness of the Holy Ghost is not transmissible’ then, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints is in error by transmitting General Conference talks because, according to you, no one will receive a witness that the speakers are speaking truth. Why hasn’t God told the leaders of the LDS church that you are correct. It’s as simple as that.

  • Bill,

    You wrote:

    “If what you write is true, ‘Since the witness of the Holy Ghost is not transmissible’ then, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints is in error by transmitting General Conference talks because, according to you, no one will receive a witness that the speakers are speaking truth.”

    According to me?

    No, that is not what I said.

    Nor does it bear any resemblance, detectable by any reasonable person, to what I said.

    Care to try again?

  • I don’t understand why you complain that I ‘attempt to divert the discussion’ – you make no sense at all. You have introduced issues that are an obvious attempt to avoid engaging in a reasonable manner to the issues that you introduce. These are the issues you have introduced ‘Do you really suppose the Lamanites were supposed to have been black, as in African’; ‘And who did Joseph Smith always think the Lamanites were?; ‘I can tell that you know because (1 ) you evaded it, ( 2 ) ‘you behaved exactly as it eviscerates your argument’; ‘you introduce the notion of an interpretive community’. The following is a list of the words and phrases you include in your replies to me;
    illegitimately, manipulatively, hostile anti – mormon, assumptions, fellow – haters,hostile apostate Simon Southerton, hypocrisy, manipulative, dishonest, amateur psychoanalysis, recycling, demanding, insistent, thank you for admitting your argument has failed, divert the discussion, your argument has failed, angry and bitter. It’s quite a list of negatives you have come up with. I responded to all the issues you introduced to my replies. I haven’t avoided any of the issues that you introduced to my replies. One simply can’t introduce words and phrases in response to an argument and then expect the recipient not to respond to them. If you don’t like my replies why don’t you respond with argument based on evidence? It is clear from your responses that you suffer from the stereotypical LDS persecution complex. Any one who challenges your beliefs is designated ‘Mormon hater’ ‘hostile’ ‘hypocrite’ ‘manipulative’ et al. You are fixated on the notion of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’. You appear to be at war with anyone who does not agree with your views and beliefs. Your LDS leaders have had to change the wording to the introduction to the Book of Mormon in the light of overwhelming evidence regarding the origin of the indigenous tribes in North America. You say that I am ‘demanding’ and ‘insistent’, I have never demanded anything of you and I have never insisted that you accept any point that I raise. On the other hand you write ‘thank you for admitting your argument has failed’ and ‘your argument has failed’ ( firstly ) I have never admitted failure and you are insisting that I have admitted failure ( secondly ) you insist ‘your argument has failed’ it’s yourself that is demanding and insistent. What does ‘illegitimately’ mean with reference to me? How am I a hypocrite by bringing to your attention that the LDS church does not sanction private interpretation of The Book of Mormon? I don’t interpret The book of Mormon – if someone named Nephi records that God cursed a group of people named Lamanites whereby their skin became black and I state that being cursed with a black skin means exactly that, how am I being a hypocrite if I take issue with a member of the LDS church who says that the Lamanites were not literally cursed with a black skin. The question as to if I believe that God cursed a group of people and turned white skinned people into black skinned people is an entirely different matter. If you have a different version of what it means to being cursed with a skin of blackness as recorded in The Book of Mormon, and you gave me your own explanation of what being cursed with a ‘skin of blackness’ means in your reply which does not agree with The Book of Mormon, you are acting ‘illegitimately’. If The Book of Mormon is Holy Scripture and if, as Joseph Smith declared The Book of Mormon ‘was the most correct of any book on earth’ then, by definition, being cursed with ‘skin of blackness’ means exactly that. Why should I accept your interpretation of The Book of Mormon. If The Holy Ghost exists specifically to reveal truth to anyone, then, no one needs any input from any so called ‘authority’ or any so called ‘prophet’ to interpret the word of God, and no one needs any self elected commentator on The Book of Mormon.

  • I quote ‘Since the witness of the Holy Ghost is not transmissible I never try to argue from it. It’s as simple as that that’. Your words entirely. Are you a pathological liar? I am looking at your reply now. Why is it you cannot own what you write? Look at what you wrote 17 hours ago.

  • Bill Covington: “Are you a pathological liar?”
    Were you looking in the mirror when you typed that?

    I agree that one of us is clearly not attempting to discuss anything in good faith.

    However, that one is not me.

    I know precisely what I wrote.

    I own what I wrote.

    I do not own your intentional, malicious and manipulative misrepresentation thereof.

    That’s entirely your affair.

    The ridiculous non sequitur you tried to force from it is not what I wrote, and it is not according to me.

    As you perfectly well know.

    The witness of the Holy Ghost is not transmissible. Nobody can examine anyone else’s testimony. We each have to gain our own. I don’t argue from mine because it’s not accessible to anyone else.

    Given – and it is a given, thoroughly established in every word you write – that you have no intention of even attempting to discuss Mormonism in good faith, I consider myself at liberty to speculate as to why you are sulking about my not introducing my testimony into the discussion.

    And, given that your every argument comes right out of the anti-Mormon playbook, I suspect that it’s because you were hoping to jump on me with the industry-standard anti-Mormon fall-back claim that every religious tradition relies upon the same kind of spiritual witness.

    Am I right?

  • Kiwi,

    The poorly bit of fiction as you proclaim was a highly well-written novel/2-3 year full time and honorably returned missionary experience/journal that changed my life forever.

    The book reviews alone by others including high up reviewers and high up members of state officials who have nothing but good things to say about the journey of “2 by Evan Lord.”

    What 2 offers is peace and freedom, Kiwi. When that book first arrived, I went out on my front porch and read it cover to cover in 3 days. Have you ever read a book that you just could not put down? I remember crying, laughing hysterically and in awe of it’s brutal honesty. Elder Ladd was the printer in his mission, working right under the Mission President.

    You talk of anti Mormonism a lot. But, what does ‘anti’ even mean? Other than a shock and awe thought stopper? Let me ask you, what is the ‘anti’ to night time? What is ‘anti’ to hate?

  • Is it really consent when an adult tells a teenager they they will die by an angel with a drawn sword if the teen doesn’t marry them? That’s what we call manipulation.

  • No, it’s not. I’m not okay with monogamous relationships that fit your discerption either. Did you want to end monogamy as well?

  • So you’re not okay with it in general, but you’re okay with it when Joseph Smith did that to manipulate those already married women, those young teenage girls to marry him. Because that is what happened in some situations.

  • That was a hilarious exchange. I couldn’t stop laughing. After being in the LDS Church for over 50 years, I know that the way that a believer thinks is different than an outsider. The true believer will stick to whatever the Church says is the truth and will never trust any information from the outside that would cause doubt. The dilemma is that if you believe in the LDS church you must only believe what comes from the top. The top leadership dictates and decides what all truth is. Any information that does not agree with the LDS position as determined by the top leadership, is considered as false. If the LDS leadership were to claim, as an extreme and wild example, that people live on the sun and moon, no amount of science and proof can convince the devout Mormon to any other position than what the leadership has dictated that they are to believe. All truth flows from God to the Prophet. So the believer does not have to even consider any other possibilities that come from outside sources. If you question anything, the answer for a true believer is to only search within the Church materials for the answer. Any answer that an outsider would offer will be considered as “anti-Mormon”. If the position of the Church was that people lived on the sun and moon (which is not the current position of the church by the way), the believer would just have to accept that science got it wrong about the sun being too hot for anyone to live on. The scientists would be thought of having been deceived by Satan to create the lie that the sun was not habitable. When all that you believe comes only from the top leadership, anything that they say is plausible. You don’t have to think for yourself. You just believe and follow the prophet no matter what he tells you to do or believe.

  • sorry kiwi57. I thought your way for 30 years. It was hard; hard learning the truth (14 year old girls and a number of other things; like OTHER MEN’S WIVES). Still trying to process it all.

  • You can spin and twist this all you want, but the change from “principal” to “among” is HUGE. Even I noticed it and wondered at the time (this before I had delved into the DNA topic). Its clear to me that the original church teaching re: BOM was a hemispheric or at least North American model. It has been in serious retreat every since. I kept waiting for the evidence, after I was baptized in college in 1986. After all, the gospel and science were both subsets of the truth. I cut my teeth as a new member on Sorenson’s “An Ancient American Setting…” book. But it has only gotten worse, and worse as time has passed. The DNA is a huge stake in the heart of the BOM. There is a small tribe in Africa that can, even after 1,000+ years prove its connection to the middle east genetically (the Lemba tribe; google it).

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