You and me Jesus … right Jesus? What the promisers cannot deliver without divine cooperation … 

7f63f33f-46a6-49e1-ac9f-7ef7438b6912

A New Orleans televangelist known for preaching the “prosperity gospel” has asked his followers from all over the world to send him donations for him to buy a $54 million jet.

Pay Up

“We preach tithing to the poor people of the world because the poor people of the world have had cycles of poverty, generation after generation,” he said. “That same poverty continues from one generation to another, until people pay their tithing.” Mormon take on solving poverty

Thoughts about Isaiah Chapter 61

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

I have not been called to join a church or be validated by the formality of an organized sect. God, the Eternal Father in Heaven communes with me. His spirit lives in me always. Father has called me and invigorates me through the Spirit. I and the Father are one. And so are each of you.

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

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

“He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted”

Those who mourn will be comforted. The meek will inherit the earth. He hath not sent me to say ‘Be of good cheer, say your prayers, and God will bless you.’

He hath not sent me to say ‘Take upon yourself my name and declare that I am your redeemer and all will go well with you.’

He hath sent me to cheer the brokenhearted with my own strength and spirit, pray for the brokenhearted as I pray for my own brokenheartedness. He hath sent me to bring the brokenhearted into my own circle of prayer and bless them by deed more than word.

“To preach deliverance to the captives.”

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

“And recovering sight to the blind”

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

“To set at liberty them that are bruised.”

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

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

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

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

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

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

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

In the Father’s house are many mansions. Yet those mansions are not arrayed on rising steps of worthiness where the children of God are separated into castes of disparate worthiness. Souls do not come to those mansions by virtue of a ledger of good deeds and obedience, but by being good for the sake of goodness. And goodness is a pearl of much greater value than righteousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There seem to be two fundamental approaches to Christian practice in our day and age. One is the social construct of churches and their potential for group achievement. Many practicing Christians will find sufficient satisfaction only in this context and that will be, in my opinion, a good thing.

The other fundamental approach is that of Mystical Christianity. Many practicing Christians hunger for something more powerfully spiritual in their lives. For them the Holy Spirit does not come in flashes during exceptionally powerful moods of righteousness or good deed. Rather, constant awareness of the Holy Spirit, of communion and oneness with God are part of their deepest desires.

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

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

We need to stop pretending that the world is that to which Adam and Eve were banished.

Rather, we must recognize that the world we have is that from which in God’s wisdom, Adam and Eve were sent.

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

Masons and Mormon Temple Builders

kirtland-temple-13

Saw a blog article about the history of ownership of the LDS Kirtland Temple pictured above.

The picture reminded me of the Masonic Temple in Bannak, Mt which Lietta and I visited a couple of years ago.

bannak masonic
The Williamsburg Virginia Lodge

masonic williamsburgva

and the Warsaw, Ny Lodge  show essentially the same design.

Masonic Warsaw NY

Interestingly the “Cultural Hall” in Nauvoo which many think was a disguise for the actual Nauvoo Lodge and the Seventies Hall which looks like it could have been another disguised Lodge.

LDS culutral hall Nauvoo IllSeventies Hall Nauvoo
The current Nauvoo Temple which the Church obviously wanted to resemble the original.

Current Nauvoo_Templeoriginal nauvoo-temple

On the original the Moroni masonic image weather vane was atop the cupola. You can google that weathervane to see more images of it.

atop the nauvoo temple weathervane moroni and masonic image

Which brings me to the image below.

Who would be interested in buying the original Nauvoo Temple

Now who do you suppose the brethren back then thought might be interested in buying a building that looked like that?

Might be the nastiest word in the Church

unworthy

“Brother Brown, at this time you are unworthy to baptize your son.”

“Sister Scarlett, you are unworthy to remain in your calling.”

“Brother and Sister you are unworthy right now to have a temple recommend.”

And the worst … “Bishop, I consider myself unworthy to …”

“A Worthy Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Church member who obeys the commandments of God to the best of his or her ability, and meets a minimum acceptable standard outlined by Church leaders.
A “worthy” member of the Church is worthy to hold a Temple Recommend. In order to obtain a Temple Recommend, one must be interviewed and found worthy by one’s bishop and stake president. The interview for a temple recommend is guided by questions composed by the First Presidency of the Church. The questions are standard and universal. The first and overriding question is, “Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost?”
Worthy Church members are expected to be honest in their dealings with their fellowmen, to pay an honest tithe (10% of one’s “increase”), to deal kindly and lovingly with family members, to be morally clean, to live the Word of Wisdom (the health code of the Church), to have repented of past sins, to be willing to attend church services and serve in callings, and to uphold the doctrines of the Church.” – mormonwiki.com

“Worthy” might very well be the signature self-esteem word in the Church.

“Unworthy” might very well be the nastiest word in the Church.
Ours is – regardless of objections – a performance-based religion. Ours is also an authoritarian religion that insists on worthiness as the principle criteria for Divine recognition and performance of ordinances and blessings.

obedience + worthiness = spirituality + blessings

Ours is a merit-based religion that fully preaches to itself that there is a “worthy” key that must constantly be inserted and in place before the blessings of Heaven pour.

And now this word from Moroni, both to the missionaries and to the converts: “See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out” (Morm. 9:29).

But we do it to ourselves when we buy into that idea, rate others or rate our own standing in the eyes of others.

… because “worthiness” as the LDS preach and portray it is a false and invalid idea.
Today I’ve invited a few outsiders to offer thoughts along with my own about how worthy we have to be in order to be human; in order to be recognized, respected and reverenced by Higher Power[s].

The Twelve-Steppers have it down pat:

God don’t make trash.”

Our own human experience has taught us the value of positive reinforcement and its impact on encouraging self-motivated change. Meaningful change is more likely to come to pass as we understand that whatever is Divine in our lives does not consider humanity as something unworthy or evil.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”― Siddhārtha Gautama

Therefore, let’s discuss the use and meaning of the words “worthy” and worthiness” in the Church.

Could we not say with certainty that the imagery portrayed in the Church and by Church leaders is that of a God whose angels record our every flaw and mistake?

Do we not believe – or act as if it is so – that these behavioral and mortal flaws are tucked away  in a book of life from which we will then be  held accountable – if we fail to cleanse ourserlves via repentance – by the God of the Doctrine & Covenants  “who cannot tolerate sin with any degree of allowance?”

It is not God who insists that we label ourselves and convince ourselves that we are sinners, sinful and essentially evil-natured. It is no one special, only other mere human beings, equally flawed and imperfect as we are who insist that it must be God’s will that we all walk around labeling ourselves in worthiness terms.

“As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are – what others say is irrelevant.”― Nic Sheff

Does the Church in such a manner openly declare that God is in fact a “respecter of persons” who requires worthiness before his outpourings of love occur?

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”― Mark Twain

Does not the Church teach that God’s outpourings are conditional rather than unconditional?

In addition, we are reminded on a weekly basis of the promise that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. As we then strive to keep ourselves clean and unspotted from the world, we become worthy vessels in whom the Spirit of the Lord can always dwell. -Apostle David Bednar

Does not the  Church deliberately instruct us that the God of Compassion is obsessed with morality as the foundation of defining Goodness – and also suggests that therefore we too should obsess on sin?

The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us.
Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us. …” Apostle David Bednar

Why would such men and women insist that it must be God’s will that we all walk around labeling ourselves as sinners, as sinful and therefore bordering on evil as our natural mortal state?

This notion of unworthiness moves rapidly across the line of credibility more  powerfully when within the official context of Church policy we begin to believe that unless we are “temple-worthy” we find ourselves in a one-down or less-than circumstance.

Do we not assume that members are not routinely called to leadership positions unless temple-worthy? Are we not fearful then of not being able to give the  scripted answers to recommend questions because so much self-validation as worthy rides on those answers?

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”― Marilyn Monroe

Temple-worthy is also a status you cannot obtain unless you buy it through your voluntary payment of tithing. In this regard purchasing LDS temple-worthiness through tithing looks like a first cousin to the old fashioned indulgences the Roman priesthood used to sell.

When it comes to exacting payment, unworthiness is the principle leverage for completing the deal through the priesthood brokers.

In other words, Mormons inflict upon themselves unfair comparisons with each other based on the notion of worthiness.

Congregations are full of mark-missers, not unworthy sinners.  Many have missed the mark big time. Those who – in interviews with others – insist that mark-missing is sin may then feel authorized and justified in labeling others “unworthy” and calling them to repentance.

Literally, in the Church, take it to the bank that “unworthy” indicates that you might have offended a thin-skinned God who cannot tolerate you-know-what with any degree of you-also-know-what.

We know we are not expected to be perfectionists in this life. We know that perfectionists not only die at younger ages and often with high blood pressure, but also that they have unreasonable expectations and make unreasonabole demands on themselves.

They also tend to be highly intolerant of flawed-ness and imperfection in others.

Perfectionists who are called to lead feel themselves empowered to use the sin-based definitions of worthiness and are much more numerous on a local and stake level than in the general quorums leading out of headquarters.

Such persons substitute their value judgments for the more meaningful pastoral skills that take more work to acquire.

As leaders they make absolutely terrible ministers.

Why then would we need to believe in a Supreme Perfectionist who has labeled His own children as inherently sinful and therefore too tragically flawed to turn out perfect?

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”~ Judy Garland

We do it to ourselves. It is done almost in knee-jerk fashion often in families where family members are perceived according to two standards.

Who are the “unworthy” among us and why do we label them that way?

“It is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for something you are not.”~ Andre Gide

It becomes easy to accept the idea that the monarchical God is offended because when we are not worthy we have something evil or inadequate about ourselves.

“If you don’t run your own life, somebody else will.”  ~ John Atkinson

One might conclude that when the phrase “unworthy” is internalized, the horrific “evil” is just around the bend.  If we see ourselves as evil we more easily perceive God as offended or withholding blessings.  Because of unacceptable behavior on our part, we force God into a role of a deity who loves us only conditionally.

“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”~ Les Brown

If we relate to our Heavenly Parents as Divines who must be pleased by us in order to bless us,  aren’t we placing our lives at risk for the next logical step: believing ourselves subject to approved exclusion or discriminatory thinking.

Do we not become part of a group of haves and have-nots in which the “unworthy” somehow have failed while the “worthy” remain  acceptable to God.

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”~ Anna Freud

Exclusionary thinking awakens discrimination at this point when we decide that “unworthy” is now “less-than.”

Since we feel uncomfortable in the presence of sin and/or sinners and we exclude by condemnation, social avoidance, shunning, excommunication or something worse. Terribly, we suddenly feel very uncomfortable in our own presence. We risk then discriminating against ourselves before someone “in authority” does it to us.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We don’t have to be bigots to suffer from the illness of self-righteousness. All we have to be is of a mind that one of our spiritual “shoulds” is to discern not only “sin” but whoever has sinned and is by gospel extensions “unworthy.”

If we believe in Heavenly Parents who deal with us conditionally based on worthiness, we also  become dupes of a second falsehood that always makes sense so long as Jesus Christ is viewed and believed in as the Master and Commander.

We come to believe that under the direction of the Father, Jesus is assisted by the Holy Ghost who carries out another form of divine retribution by ignoring us. And we are left to figure out how The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are a trinity whose relationship with humanity becomes  conditional rather than its eternal opposite.

At the same time, the individual is given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Mormons believe that this gift and its companion blessing entitles the recipient to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as a guide and guardian, so long as the recipient lives worthy of the gift.

Joseph Smith taught that the influence of the Holy Ghost, which is the convincing power of God of the truth of the gospel, can be received before baptism, but the gift, or constant companionship, of the Holy Ghost, is obtained only after baptism. “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man,” he said, “if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 314). mormonwiki.com

A person is expected to receive the witness of the Holy Ghost to the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, of scripture, and of the words of the living prophets before baptism. The full outpouring of the Spirit does not come, however, until the person has complied with the command to be baptized. 

Only after baptism can the gift be conferred by one in authority, and even then the Holy Ghost cannot be received by someone who is not worthy of it, since the Holy Ghost will not dwell in the heart of an unrighteous person. Thus, the actual companionship of the Holy Ghost may be received immediately after baptism or at a subsequent time, when the one receiving the promise becomes a fit companion for that holy being. Should the individual cease thereafter to be clean and obedient, the Holy Ghost will withdraw (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). – mormonwiki.com 

The idea of worthiness as a condition for the Spirit of God to assert its influence seriously distorts – but reinforces – every authoritarian religion that portrays itself as the agent of an autocratic God.

The autocratic God is a co-dependent God relied upon by His self-appointed authoritarians. These authoritarians invest most of their energy attempting to micro-manage the very thoughts of believers. Such is a false god who would judge you for what you think and believe more than what you do.

The autocratic micro-managing false god of commandments lies at the heart of most guilt complexes all over the world. Believers then tend not to be authentic, not they’re real selves.

“That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.

Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing.

You get to love your pretense.

It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act – and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks.

They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you’re trying to steal their most precious possession.”― Jim Morrison

If you choose to believe that as a parent you are justified – at the most critical moment in your child’s life –  in refusing to speak to that child because that child did not “obey” you, the truth then is that you literally do not deserve to be a parent.

If you choose to believe that your Heavenly Parents will refuse to “be there for you” if you have become “unworthy” of their conditional requirements for blessings and comfort, I tell you that such Heavenly Parents are not worthy of your reverence.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Portrait of Dysfunctional Religion: The Mormon Model

I was born and raised in a fully LDS community some 160 miles north of Salt Lake City. I am culturally a heritage-based Mormon to this day. It is from that perspective then – the religious perspective with which I’ve spent most of my life – that I am able then to write this portrait.

What does it mean to live spiritually?
Mormonism can be defined as a performance-based religion with the following operational formula:
Obedience + Worthiness constitutes Spirituality … which leads to blessings
Churches that encourage the belief that heaven is the destiny and reward toward which one directs a life of accumulated accomplishments are known as performance-based religions. The LDS Church with its systematic theologies, doctrines and programs may very well be the ultimate example and pattern of this way of imagining god and god’s reality.
Although entirely lacking proof in any physical or spiritual form of such a realm organized after the pattern of that 19th-century reality,  Joseph Smith and a host of early American prophets, evangelists and circuit-riding preachers asserted in creatively imagined and described forms, the notion that the ultimate truthfulness of the spirit world is based on performance and worthiness.
The Divine Abusive Elephant in the Living Room
This imagined reality, consistently asserted over more than the past two centuries, is why most believing Mormons today – easily and perhaps without much critical thought – buy into Church legalism. It becomes almost second nature to accept the idea of an over-controlling detail-obsessed God whose portrayed behavior looks so much like a domineering patriarchal alcoholic who is in reality a controlling parent, spouse or lover.
Uncritically, as an act of faith, devotion and obedience many sincere believers buy without question into the notions such as

  •      humans are so imperfect that God created religion by which that Divine Male Patriarch could – in a loving but domineering manner – thrust guidelines for living into our lives.
  • Such guidelines almost casually become laws or, better said, doctrines “irrevocably decreed” which the children of said God are expected to follow.
  • This God of guidelines demands strict adherence to such doctrines which in fact do nothing more than establish a notion that obedience is elevated at the expense of agency.
  • The highest spiritual approval in life is nothing more than an experiential pat on the head for being an obedient child.
The implications of such internalized assumptions include an idea that the God and Father of Obedience created a world abundant with the fruits of creative activity, but then commanded adherence to a list of the performances – or in some cases, negative performances – that the children of God are expected to do … or not do …
A performance-based religion puts bans on what are perceived to be inappropriate things. These bans become “laws of the Church” which by implication become “Laws of God” which are viewed than as “Irrevocably Decreed” and upon which a worthiness obsessed God grants rewards.
In a performance-based-religion, members are banned from inappropriate music, television, movies, books and other literature. Freedom of  expression in art, music, and other forms of entertainment are seen as risks that may cause the Father to stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based-religion certain food and drink products are banned and seen as the causes of risks that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based-religion the Father requires strict adherence to dress and personal appearance codes the rejection of which creates a risk that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based-religion scriptures become the means and tool that can be utilized to effectively stand in for a lack of contemporary legitimate on-going revelation from the same God who started everything eons ago by speaking directly to his children. Scripture then becomes the weapon that confronts those who challenge would-be church-proclaimed prophets who don’t seem to do much contemporary prophesying, seeing or revelating themselves..
In a performance-based-religion, the very Father of Obedience – who has become in fact a Father of Conformity – does not speak to His church except through the voices of those who declare that the same silent Father has established in this performance-based-religion the only acceptable and effective means to salvation.
The Father of Conformity either refuses or is unwilling to justify or explain how such an only-right-means-to-salvation system and circumstance is equally fair and just to every other human being on the planet, not to mention why a privileged minority are granted the divine privilege of being born inside this only-right-means while the rest of the world must figure and work it out for themselves.
In a performance-based religion, like an overly strict and self-absorbed alcoholic parent, the Father of Conformity has authorized the use of emotional guilt, intimidation, thought control and coercion to keep family  members in line. He is also seen as justifying and endorsing guilt-ridden sermons and lessons designed to push believers into submitting to the authority of the leadership without question or criticism. Failure to respect the leadership creates a risk that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.
In a performance-based religion the Father of Conformity has authorized the use of the theory that people should spend long hours at the Church and do work in the Church in order to gain rewards in heaven. A bureaucracy has been created at all levels in order to engender, monitor and “lovingly” coerce this sort of working participation which then becomes the standard by which member spirituality is measured and recognized. This is not unlike the demand of an alcoholic tyrant that his family enable his behavior.
The same bureaucracy becomes then a powerful instrument for limiting criticism and dissention through emotional and spiritual abuse by perceived authority and endorsement by the Father of Conformity.
What is happening today and something about which the grand bureaucracy at all levels refuses to admit to being in denial about is that the process of establishing and enforcing man-made rules and doctrines creates mere man-made leadership. These leaders tend to nothing other than, or nothing better than the jot-and-tittle Pharisees of the New Testament. They are driving many away who would otherwise not be driven away.
Some who are driven away leave with emotional scars that cause depression, substance abuse and – unfortunately – suicide, along with the very activities against which the religion relentlessly preached. One can make a case the some of those driven off are at least temporarily not prepared to deal with life and society in a manner that is free from long-internalized judgmental and narrow notions.
The gentle but rigid Church programming involves and in fact revolves around forms of guilt and coercion. Within the Church as well as among those driven off there is a danger of low self-esteem that causes essentially unreasonable reactions to the Church itself.
Repentance becomes much more than returning to God.  It involves returning to the Church from which one has fled in desperation. This is not unlike a battered-wives syndrome where one consciously returns to a life at home with a mean and unrepentant battering inebriated spouse who wants her back but will –once she returns – continue business as usual.
There is a genuine tragedy when one feels driven off from the clan or out of the tribe because, like an enormous and ominous dark tower, the Church rises in the background or even the actual center of the tribal village. The Church thrusts itself with impunity into the middle of family relationships to which it has no moral or God-given right to interfere.
Members – unconsciously in many cases – are forced to choose between Church and family.
The Father of Conformity has said nothing about why this circumstance is a positive fruit by which that Father is known among the children of men. The either-or attitude may only be a perception of those driven off when the rest of the family remains inside the righteous but unseen walls of Church conformity. However, the Church does little or nothing to address that very family estrangement of which the Church and its historical narrative, that which informs it’s the Church’s justification for existing, is the principle cause.
Limited serenity that comes from separation from the direct and immediate sources of emotional pain still feels like something much better than the rigidly inflexible cauldron of conformity whose principal legacy is misery.
One day perhaps enough souls will be driven out of that imagined reality to change the face of the Church which might then turn away from the performance-based religious corporation it has become.
If not, those who imagine themselves to be living lives of actual free agency in the Great and Spacious Building may come to have greater power and influence than those who imagine themselves as children of the Father of Conformity.

 

Ah … er … How’s that again?

Against govt as soon as govt sends disability check

On irony … what about it oh gun-toting-set-things-righters?

want our land back really.jpg

The Bundy Siege is a Wake-Up Call: American Extremists Are Getting Desperate and Dangerous

” Thus, the central conceit of this battle is utter nonsense. By massive majorities, Nevadans do not want to give up public land to the likes of Cliven Bundy, who would use it to enrich themselves while denying access to others.

I use Nevada as a stand in for the entire western United States, even though this latest skirmish is just over the border in Oregon. Nevada is an effective case study, in part because the Sagebrush Rebellion has deep roots here. I also know about it firsthand, because I grew up an hour away from Elko, Nevada, the epicenter of the rebellion. “

On Welfare Moochers:

Bundy and Other Cattle Ranchers are Living Off Large Federal Handouts Yet Complain About Govt. Intervention

 

Why bless his big old cowboy hat.

bundy3

The revealed religion of Cliven Bundy:

“If the standoff with the Bundys was wrong, would the Lord have been with us?” he asked, noting no one was killed as tensions escalated. “Could those people that stood (with me) without fear and went through that spiritual experience … have done that without the Lord being there? No, they couldn’t.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Explainer – The Bundy Militia’s Particular Brand Of Mormonism

“I’m Captain Moroni, from Utah.”  

That’s how one militiaman at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge responded to OPB’s Amanda Peacher when she asked for his name.

That name is not a silly response to deflect responsibility: In many ways, it encapsulates a deeply intertwined anti-federal sentiment mixed with Mormon symbolism. Captain Moroni is a crucial figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’s also a heroic figure for anti-federalist extremists.  

In the modern day west, Captain Moroni has become one of several powerful symbols for the Bundy militia’s anti-governmental extremism.

Who Is Captain Moroni?

Take yourself too seriously and you invite mockery.

Loons

The revealed religion of Ammon Bundy:

“I got this urge that I needed write something,” Bundy said. “I asked the good Lord…I need some help. And he gave me that help. The Lord is not pleased what has happened with the Hammonds.”



In Oregon there are men -many of whom profess devotion to a church based on patriarchy – who are brandishing guns and are making what looks like to me an attempt to be heroic males in an overly dramatic way … and are doing so hiding behind of facade of bogus patriotism.

A patriarchal order is the historical domain of most fundamentalist Christian religions. Nowadays in such an order the male dominates more by custom than an enforced demand that women conform and comply. Nevertheless in a patriarchal order there is an inherent attitude of “leadership superiority” in play.

How many males truly have an awareness and willingly consider – even explore, if you will – their own feminine side?

I believe such a dual aspect is a normal part of being human and that there exists no intent by any Higher Power that the male is expected to assume the leadership role in all venues.

To my fellow Mormon dissenters: Joseph’s Peep Stone acknowledged. Don’t gloat, don’t I-told-you-so … don’t get childish about it.

Why the peep or seer stone is vital to understanding anything necessary accurate to the LDS historical faith claims.

Why the peep or seer stone is vital to understanding anything necessary accurate to the LDS historical faith claims.

Joseph’s Seer Stone Acknowledged: The Church Intellectualizes a Superstition

A truth left out … but now acknowledged … to the shock and dismay of many who had previously believed without critical thought.

Things aren’t what they were thought to be.

With a loss of control of source documentation regarding integral parts of the LDS foundation narrative, the Church itself has in many ways been forced to acknowledge that Santa’s sleigh doesn’t fly, that he doesn’t carry presents for every child on earth in that sleigh and that he doesn’t tumble down chimneys.

Nevertheless, the Church maintains, Santa Claus is real. The naughty-or- nice detail is still in place and gifts or coal is still in the offing.

This is in effect an attempt at transparency that leaves serious Latter Day Saints who take their theology, doctrine and most particularity the supernatural aspects of their history swaying at the end of a rope whose strings seem now at greater risk of unraveling.

Such is not, however, a beginning of the end.

Rather, it may very well prove to be that intellectualizing the previously un-provable narrative will open a floodgate that could reduce the literal-minded percentage of practicing Mormons, but not lead to some catastrophic collapse of the entire religion.

That is because Mormonism is in reality a major global religion with its own peculiarities but possessed of enough true believers and doctrinal goodness so as to sustain itself and a place in the religious thought of the planet.

That which you imagine to be absolutely true … Believe … and then pretend to make it so 

Let me begin by asking that you describe to yourself (and for your own understanding)  the spiritual image that comes to mind when you think of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Ghost and – but not least – Mother in Heaven.

Is your image of God the Father defined by the doctrine and theology of your particular religion?

Is your image of Jesus that defined by fundamental Christian theology?

If you pray to Jesus Christ, do you pray to the standard Christian theological definition of the Savior of the World, the Redeemer, the He-Who-Accomplished-the-Atonement?

And how – if you carry such an image – do you perceive Heavenly Mother; the Goddess?

Many ancient pagan religions encouraged prayer to statues. Christianity has a tradition of bowing and praying to statuary images of Jesus, Mary and the Saints. It  would be interesting to discover whether we offer prayers to internally imagined anthropomorphic divine images, merely offer mental oblations to the cosmos or carry out something entirely different?

If one had achieved a genuine and spiritually sensed relationship with the higher  power – God, if you will, as one had come to understand God – how would you respond to the following portrayals if they did not fit what you already possessed in your experience?

Could you easily accept a new idea of God as a Boss of the Universe no matter how respectfully and reverentially that notion is expressed?

Could you easily accept a new idea that God is a kindly, and benevolently divine version of a Caesar?

Could you easily accept a new idea that God is the male head of a divinely created and eternal Patriarchal Order that relegates every female to a secondary role in a forever of existence?

Based on a relationship with the Divine that you had already achieved, could you easily accept a new idea that the Divine with whom you commune is actually a judgmental and critical god who cannot look upon nor tolerate sin with any degree of allowance?

On the other hand, could you easily accept a new idea that the higher power with whom you have intimate and personal communion is also the Divine Author of Compassion as the ultimate way of human interaction?

Could you easily accept the idea that the God you have come to know is focused entirely on our loving one another and entirely not focused on our condemnation of anyone?

The adolescent religion of my birth was presented to me as the defined nature of life based on a continuous pattern of spiritual prompting. Mormonism came into being in the world of 19th-century American religious literal-ism based on experiences that bore in their very existence widely-accepted assumptions as to the perceptive definitions and meanings of spiritual promptings … revelation, as it were.

The Father and Son described by Joseph Smith in his Vision were entirely consistent with the fundamentalist bible-based definitions of who God is. In addition, there is consistency with how that male and patriarchal god communicates to man, not to mention a notion that the Almighty rarely speaks to humans individually as a  matter of course. We owe much of that to the controlling theology, dogma and orthodoxy of the original Roman Catholic Church fathers.

However, when God the Father speaks, such communication includes an investiture of authority to those “called” to speak on His Divine behalf and who then become His middle men to the rest of the mortals.

It is necessary to understand and acknowledge one’s own personal cosmic vision and then acknowledge the assumptions upon which definitions and constructions of both reality and the spiritual world are created.

We create them all by ourselves. Others do not create them for us except to the degree that we let someone else’s constructs become our constructs.

In very powerful but subconscious ways, many believers practice their religion with an internal image that they “know” exists. This internal image they have never actually seen exists essentially because believers have accepted the testimonies of others who likewise have never seen it but also “know” it exists as defined in the traditional LDS way of testimony and authority.

In the same fashion, many believers “know” of the reality where the patriarchal god “is,”  where Jesus Christ  “is,” and where Satan “is” and “works” and “wants to rule.”

For many Christians, that spirit world exists in some other dimension and interacts with our own world in supernatural ways.

This imagined Mormon reality has its conflicts with the imagined reality of other Christians, not to mention other non-Christian religions who define the High Power in their own way.

But let me write specifically to the assumptions most believing Mormons live by.

There is the view of a purely supernatural, all-wise, all-knowing and almighty God who at times intervenes in the affairs of mortals in dramatic or not-so-dramatic ways. The Mormon Heavenly Father is essentially co-dependent who is a king of commandments and who is typically a type-A personality who runs the universe by edict.

Most believing Mormons easily accept and live according to the idea of an invisible Jesus/God personage who is vitally invested in human life and who directs forces of good against the other supernatural power and source of evil, Satan. This God of today’s Mormonism remains as he was in the 19th Century.

The fundamentalist god of 19th century spoke through a foggy notion prophecy and only to especially chosen humans who – a not unnatural idea – were destined to do a great work through the power of that fundamentalist god who didn’t talk to just everybody. The means of communication was equally and mysteriously superstitious, expressed as much through the mind-set of magical thinking as it was through wild assumptions of how the biblical god had always spoken to chosen prophetic heroes or heroines.

Joseph Smith started early with peep stones which later came to be defined orthodoxically as seer stones. His belief in and habit of using peep stones undoubtedly influenced his willingness and inclination to see himself in a prophetic (think mystical) manner. It further allowed an almost casual declaration that he had come to a place of spiritual experience with which he could channel the mind of god to everyone else (although Joseph would have never called it channeling.)

This magical and folkloric way of thinking is why Joseph summoned Moroni exactly on September 21st because that was the solstice time of magical practice in which one did that sort of thing. That is in fact how the first conversations with Moroni were channeled and later information received via a peep stone.

That is why the peep or seer stone is vital to understanding anything necessary accurate to the LDS historical faith claims.

Human spirituality for the most part – and perhaps with the exception of certain charismatic perceptiveness –  in this century is no longer the simplistic 19th century evangelizing fundamentalism of the American frontier.

Modern spirituality is best blended with common sense and ethics rather than being limited to an organized religious institutional tradition driven by hundreds of years of theological guesswork that had become more and more obviously flawed and inadequate.

What is called for is spirituality that functions as part of and not a background to a reality that is defined daily by human interaction, curiosity, discovery and challenge.

Contemporary Mormonism is one example of the Old Time Religion that does not work – principally because all those old assumptions that were never valid are now seriously impeding social movement toward social justice and genuine compassionate concern for each other.

The LDS leadership has endeavored to come clean regarding one foundational myth: that of the how the golden plates were translated and visually inspected by Joseph Smith.  Believers now see the Church  asking its members to move through a process of intellectualizing the factual part of their history. However, the insistence remains that the superstitious assumptions that drive the day to day living of the religion remain legitimate.

How does one deal with years – a lifetime even – of taking it all literal only to learn otherwise?

Until we get past that feeling of being offended we will possibly forever remain the unresolved and wronged human being trapped in memory and living in ignorance of personal proprietorship of our lives.

I could not heal myself until I took ownership to the degree possible of my own willingness to believe or suspend disbelief all those earlier years.

Literal-minded belief – which is the weakest kind of human religious spirituality – is also a major player in the inability to heal one’s self.

Literal-minded belief in the true-churchiness of it all causes an instinctive fear for eternity.

Such an internal and emotional fear can cause one to relinquish ownership of one’s own spirituality.  One is then tempted to remain captured by the notion that God deals with souls no directly; not intimately; but in a detached and distant manner using middlemen.

You literally then don’t have to believe so much in God as much as you have to believe in the middle men.

So long as you believe in middlemen and that they are appointed by God to do His talking and to do his intimate work in your life, you are stuck in literal-minded submission to an extremely false notion.

Members are encouraged to believe or assume that every answer to every prayer must include in some form or manner a “burning” that testifies that the church is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the the current president is a prophet today, that the Book of Mormon is true … any of an array of exclusively LDS beliefs.

The Church seems to be betting on the idea that the seer stone acknowledgement is an acknowledgement of an original historical truth that was formerly presented in a way intended to bait and switch. Hence we are already seeing an assortment of intellectualizations regarding the seer stone from semi-official and unofficial but strictly within the circled wagons of true believing sources.

The substance of this transparency by necessity then is an acknowledgment of how Santa really gets his job done .. but not any kind of admission that Santa isn’t real. On the contrary, Santa is even more so Santa and his Elves are living proof of his existence.

If the spiritual experience doesn’t have that confirming element to it, then the objective of prayer, meditation and communion is incomplete and – perish the thought – might not have been an endeavor worthy of effort.

We do this to ourselves.

The Church only encourages us because … well, because it is now a big church with more global needs. The corporate view of management whether serving hamburgers, selling software or ministering to believers within a mythical absolute is the same:

control of flow.

What flows must be controlled whether  we are talking numbers, testimonies or the support of those called as mid-level managers of congregations. The only really tangible and measurable tool of control is conformity.

But reality reveals that those warm feelings that come from our prayers are ours to own and not something connected to the true-church narrative.

They are not on loan from the Church and they are not feelings on which the Church has a claim, let alone any monopoly.

Drop the literal-minded acceptance of the need for middle men in your relationship of prayer and communion with the divine and you will have taken gigantic steps in the direction of your own personal liberation.

Regarding immediate and extended family and what reactions might occur, do not be so arrogant in that you assume responsibility for the happiness of others.

Do not assume that you owe some great sacrifice of remaining in a box that family wants you in – even when family is not aware and does not accept that they are forcing you into a box from which you are not allowed to escape.

Here with our “families-are-forever” mantra, lies programming.

Whether deliberate or not, it is a programming that facilitates a family-based peer pressure to insure social conformity and assert the Church control that had loosened with your dissent.

Blood is thicker than water.

In no way however is that ever supposed to mean that family can bloody it’s own members spiritually and not offend God.

Finally, regarding the acknowledgement of the peep stone, that face in the hat and all that jazz.

Don’t gloat, don’t I-told-you-so … don’t get childish about it. Your wounded feelings are not paramount here. Those who gloated when you dissented, told you so and insisted that you are living in the Great and Spacious Building as a mocker of the truth of god are now sitting in sand castles (temples) whose foundations are a lot shakier than they thought.

Be the grown up.

If such seems to be occurring, perhaps faith is needed if one remains a believer in however form that takes.

A loving God might eventually open the window where family has closed the door.