Upon Thy Belly Shalt Thou Go

Using Near Death Experiences (or NDEs) for information is a lot like trusting in one’s own dreams; sometimes a really clear one comes along that lands us with a ton of good insight but what we usually find ourselves doing is piecing together patterns from several, looking for recurrent elements and images. One of our favorite books here at The Wonder Women is a treasure trove of LDS NDEs called Life Everlasting by Duane S. Crowther, and it has helped to answer some really important questions of mine, such as: What will my hair be like in the spirit world? Seriously, it is fuel for the imagination and will help you to understand that above all, your most important task here in this life, according to persons who have gone and come back, is to love people. 


NDEs have also helped to answer a couple of other questions of mine relating to both the angel Moroni and Satan. I had always wondered why Angel Moroni and other angels were in the habit of appearing to Joseph Smith high in the air as if they were floating. Joseph described Moroni as having “appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.” Consider the wording common in so many NDEs: "I found myself high above my body." Here's another one:

My spirit left the body; just how I cannot tell. But I perceived myself standing some four or five feet in the air, and saw my body lying on the bed.
— Peter E. Johnson, The Relief Society Magazine, vol. VII, No. 8 describing an experience he'd had August 8, 1898 when he was stricken with malaria

There is also Joseph Smith's instruction that "the spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work: hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us." (History of the Church 6:52, October 9, 1843). The word "exalted," I imagine, is both literal and figurative. I dare suppose the spirits of the righteous exist on a higher plane, perhaps on the surface of the earth's spirit that I have heard described as larger than the present, physical earth, which would put those residing there a few feet above this mortal plane. 

Conversely, it would follow that the spirits of the wicked would exist on a lower plane (this is starting to sound a lot like the 9 realms of Norse mythology - which had to have its roots somewhere - welcome to Middle Earth, folks). Lorenzo Dow Young, of his near-death experience, said his "guide" told him, "'I will now show you the condition of the damned.' Pointing with his hand, he said, 'Look!' I looked down a distance which appeared incomprehensible to me" (Fragments of Experience, pg 28). It is also common to hear those unfortunate enough to have experience with these sorts of NDEs say things like, "I was looking down into a large pit" and "I descended into Hell." 

garden-of-eden serpent.jpg

I am sure the pit of Hell is of varying depths and degrees, but it would make sense that those given license to interface with the mortal plane would need to be somewhat close to us. Let's suppose they are physically as "fallen" as the angels assigned to us (like Moroni) are "exalted." If a messenger from the Lord had his feet fall somewhere between our belly and our head, that would put an evil tempter in an interesting position, with our flesh and blood feet striking somewhere between *it's* belly and head. Doesn't that sound a lot like the natural consequence (or curse) the Lord laid out for the serpent, whom we know as Lucifer, or Satan?  

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thous has done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of they life.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
— Genesis 3:14-15

Does that make sense, now, or what? Maybe that is the plane Satan and his followers are confined to, out there like a sea of floating torsos, eating our dust? A generation of ankle-biters. I swear they still manage to whisper in the ear although, seriously, I don't really think spirit communication happens that way. I think that part is figurative.

If this is true, wouldn't a whole lot of things make more sense? Like why mountains are such holy places? They would be so much further removed from the plane of the wicked; no unclean thing would have access to them. It would further elucidate why thieves and other wicked men (including politicians - have you noticed?) seek refuge in the holes of rocks. Try this little morsel of speculation on for size and see if it works for you and then get back to me.

What say ye?


If a Pioneer Peeked into Your Pantry

Emma Smith is thought of as the catalyst that brought about the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom when she questioned whether or not the tobacco mess she had to scrub from the floor of the room which housed the School of the Prophets was a by-product of a worthy habit. When we talk about understanding the context in which the WofW was given, she is a pretty decent witness. So...what if she were to take a look at the things in your refrigerator, your cupboards and your pantry? Would she recognize any of it as food? 

“Pasteurized and homogenized?” I can hear her read off of your milk carton. Pasteurization of milk came to America almost a hundred years after the WofW was given, although homogenization began slightly sooner. Though convenient for both producer and consumer, these processes turned whole, nutritious milk into a less nutritious, often problematic one.  

Factory farmed egg vs. backyard egg

Factory farmed egg vs. backyard egg

Our store-bought eggs might look just fine to our Nauvoo sister, but if she were to crack one open what would she see? Instead of a fresh and perky, bright yellow yolk sitting up on its taut white, she’d see the standard anemic pale, relaxed blob of a yolk that’s less than fresh. And if we told her that the hens who laid those eggs were fed soy, she would tell you that she had never even heard of soy, as it wouldn’t have been grown anywhere in the States until the 1860s. Let's not tell her what kinds of lives these chickens live, literally cooped up in a cement building, out of the fresh air and sunlight and away from their preferred food sources.

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I bet her eyes would grow big with amazement at the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that you were lucky enough to have in January...until she tasted them. She’d go rummaging through your pantry looking for crocks of pickled vegetable and preserves with no success. Where are the barrels of apples? The braids of onions? The crates of carrots and potatoes, packed in sand or damp sawdust? Where is your root cellar? How do you survive without one? She might think.

And then she spies your loaf of pre-sliced, cellophane-wrapped bread sitting there on the counter. She figures out how to undo the twistie tie and takes a bite and it tastes overwhelmingly of... chemicals. The label on the package looks like it’s written in another language. Out of a list of 25 ingredients, she would only recognize: wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. What if we were to tell her that there are, currently, bread-making demonstrations at the Church historic site of Nauvoo where folks could go to appreciate what life was like for them? And what if we were to tell her that the recipe for the bread being made there as representative of their bread included powdered milk and potato flakes and instant, mass-produced yeast? I would actually love to see her face if we were to tell her that.

junk food pantry.jpg

It would be interesting to watch her scan the rows of boxed and packaged convenience foods both in and out of the fridge. 

How can we, today, understand a revelation intended to instruct a generation with a whole separate knowledge and skill base, when it comes to food? If you want a revelation of your own, read the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Written to describe a period a few decades after the Nauvoo era, the series contains a wealth of information about how food was grown, stored, prepared and eaten. 

After examining our pantries, would Emma admire the convenience we enjoy and think us blessed to live in such an age, or would she view us as impoverished in both our foodways and food supply? I WONDER. This New Year, I invite you to re-examine what's in your pantry and ask yourself if folks even a hundred years ago would recognize it and want to eat it. I invite you to get real with your food so that we can at least lay a groundwork for beginning to understand the Word of Wisdom. 

What say ye? 

Will the Real “Daughters of Zion” Please Stand?

Zion is just one of those words, isn’t it? It’s like the box we’re all describing, yet we don’t really know what’s inside. It’s like the difference between the meaning of the words “God” and “god” - yet the capital G indicates we’re talking about the specific Person to whom we are ultimately accountable vs. the general term for a divine being. We kind of have to understand what’s in the box in order to see what Isaiah saw and subsequently taught us about the “daughters of Zion.”

The mountain of the Lord, Mount Zion, the                           heavenly city

The mountain of the Lord, Mount Zion, the                           heavenly city

Mount Zion is simply the city where God lives. According to Hebrews 12:22 it’s “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”. It’s also known as “the throne” of God (Revelations 14:1&3), high and lifted up, not necessarily on any kind of mountain recognizable to us today — but more of a City of Enoch type habitation, apart from but somehow connected with the earth. Zion is essentially the homeland, the Old World, the original after which all others are patterned - in the likeness of which temples are made to represent.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
— Psalms 48:1-2


So, who are the “daughters of Zion?” Well...they’re not people, they’re places. One of them, instead of the “heavenly Jerusalem,” is the earthly Jerusalem. Another is the New Jerusalem of the American continent. These are the daughters of Zion that I know about. These places are to be patterned after the heavenly city, but haven’t yet reached their potential. In fact, we are taught by Isaiah and others that they will have to undergo some major cleansing before anything everlastingly good can be built there. 

Read Isaiah chapters 3 & 4 again. To me, it used to sound like chapter 3  was describing how those haughty women of the Church were sure going to get it for their worldliness then, in chapter 4, one of their just desserts was going to be having to share a husband between 7 women. Yeah, we church ladies have been known to wear things like bracelets, earrings, headbands and changeable suits of apparel to Sunday services, and I swear I’ve seen some pretty minced walking in the halls. But wanton eyes? (ie. whorish?) That never felt like a good fit - it was all a bit of a stretch to be honest.

I tend to believe the general authorities when they tell us, constantly, how good the women of the Church are. What makes infinitely more sense, to me, is that the Lord is revealing to Isaiah what will happen to the lands of promise, in both the east and west in the day of their cleansing.

- He will “smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion.” Is that a reference to the punishment of the ungodly leaders in both lands? I hope so.

-He will “discover their secret parts.” Does that mean that all that was hidden - what was done in darkness - will be shouted from the rooftops? Bring that on, too.

- “Burning instead of beauty”? Doesn’t that make more sense with reference to a place rather than people? 

Clearly there will be many female members of the Church who will be found wanting.

Clearly there will be many female members of the Church who will be found wanting.

Why does this matter so much? Well for one, it means that what comes next, in chapter 4, isn’t a detailing of a punishment, but an explanation of the redemption of righteous women. There will not be a sharing of one man per seven women because that’s what degraded women, who have been compelled to be humble, deserve. It is a mercy extended toward those who are worthy of it. It is the beginning of the “branch of the Lord” becoming “beautiful and glorious” (Isaiah 4:2). 

As far as we women align ourselves with the foolishness of the world, we deserve punishment along with them. And I will be first to admit there are women on the records of the Church who will be found wanting in these last days. But is Isaiah singling out the women of the Church in chapter 3 in that way?  

What say ye? 


The Things We Refuse to See

willful blindness.jpg

Are there issues that people are afraid to talk about with you? Are there subjects you’d rather avoid? If you are like 100% of the population, you may be suffering to some degree with the same condition as those described by Jesus who “seeing see not.” There is even a legal term for it today: willful blindness. “If there’s information that you could know and you should know but you somehow manage not to know” you are willfully blind. You have chosen not to know (Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril). I propose that asking yourself the above questions can be a fabulous springboard for introspection and growth, if you’re brave enough. 

Thanks to the internet, I know I’m not alone in wondering how curious it is that so many of my fellow Latter-day Saints who seem to be reading the Book of Mormon could be simultaneously unsuspecting of the “secret combinations” that threaten to destroy us today. Or maybe they acknowledge that secret combinations exist in one segment of society (such as in political machinations) but their vision willfully does not extend to another segment (such as institutions of modern medicine - cancer industry, pharmaceuticals, etc). When, and if, I get a chance to talk to some of them one-on-one, what I usually discover is that they don’t care to look into such things because of the futility of it; they think nothing is ever going to change. They, therefore, choose not to know. Does it matter, one way or the other? 

Sometimes, we refuse to see something because acknowledging it would hurt too much, make us feel too guilty or demand (what we see as) too much sacrifice because of the action it would require. We like to consider ourselves good. And so, if there exists any truth that we feel would jeopardize our feelings of worth, it makes us feel safer not to look into it. Oh, golly, ask me how I know. (Please don’t, really). But we’re not safer by not knowing. We’re stopped from progressing. Isn’t that the definition of “damnation?" Stunted. Going nowhere.

What do we do to help ourselves? We’ve got to listen to the stuff that hurts the most. When it comes to overcoming blindness in ourselves, the blind little bats have a lot to teach us. It’s what comes bouncing back from the outside world that helps them navigate safely. What are you most sensitive about in conversations with others? In your interactions, what makes you angry, and why? Dig deep. 

Our dreams can help. Dreams are the attempts of our higher selves to illustrate for us what’s really going on in our lives, through the universal language of symbols. And the most helpful of all dreams, believe it or not, are nightmares...especially recurring nightmares. In the words of one of my favorite dream researchers: “They make vivid and memorable some important thoughts and feelings that we tend to push aside by day” (Gillian Holloway). Nightmares address our unfinished business - our unresolved issues. It’s usually not easy to find out what your dreams are trying to tell you without referring to “dream banks,” which are common dreams across cultures and experience. Sometimes you are too close to the issue to see your dream clearly, but if you explain it to a spouse or friend they can often see it for what it is. 

We have got to blow the whistle on ourselves sometimes. You know, it’s really sad how we often we pass off whistleblowers as crazy. Margaret Heffernan, the above-mentioned author and speaker, went around interviewing whistleblowers of all kinds and, to her surprise, she found them to be extremely loyal to the institutions they exposed. It was typically because they cared about the institution so much  and wanted to keep it healthy that they spoke up and insisted on seeing instead of turning a blind eye. We need that little whistleblower in ourselves to do its job. We need to care enough about ourselves to insist on seeing even (especially) when it hurts to see because freedom doesn’t exist if we don’t use it - which is what happens when we choose to not see the alternatives that are right in front of us.

What say ye? 

Can a Resurrected Being Die?

I’m guessing most of us think we’ve got this one. After all, right there in the Bible Dictionary it tells us “the Resurrection consists in the uniting of a spirit body with a body of flesh and bones, never again to be divided,” an idea that comes from the Book of Mormon.

I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.
— Alma 11:45

If this had been all that was ever been revealed on the principle of resurrection, I would have to come to the conclusion that resurrected bodies were incapable of dying. But, thinking about it, it seems a little strange that there could exist supremely powerful beings - ones possessing all the keys of the universe - able to form whole worlds, yet who cannot do something as simple as die, if they wanted to...even if, by laying down their lives, they could provide the opportunity of advancement for billions and billions. 

‘For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;’ (John 5:26). [The Son] had power, when all mankind had lost their life, to restore life to them again; and hence He is the Resurrection and the Life, which power no other man possesses.  Another distinction is, that having this life in Himself, He had power, as He said, to lay down His life and to take it up again, which power was also given Him by the Father.”
— John Taylor

Perhaps we all have that friend who thinks that when Christ said “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do" he was implying that the Father, also, had been the redeemer of a world. What are the chances of that? I WONDER. What are the chances that the once-mortal man, on an earth like ours, who had gone on to merit a celestial body in the resurrection of his world, would end up being the one in billions who happened to be the redeemer of that world and was now our Father in Heaven? Not likely, nor is it an accurate interpretation of what was meant, according to President Brigham Young. 

There never was any world created and peopled nor ever would be but what would be redeemed by the shedding of the blood of the Savior of the world. If we are ever exalted and crowned in the presence of God we shall become Saviors of a world which we shall create and people...Adam made this world and suffered himself to take a body and subject himself to sin that redemption and exaltation might come to a man.
— Wilford Woodruff quoting Brigham Young

Adam and Eve were just as much saviors of this world as Jesus Christ in that they laid down their lives voluntarily for the salvation of mankind. What kind of bodies did they have when they entered the Garden? The prophet Brigham Young told us plainly but we, as a church, rejected that piece of the puzzle and are left with nothing in its place. 

What kind of bodies did Adam and Eve possess before the Fall?

What kind of bodies did Adam and Eve possess before the Fall?

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden he came into it with a celestial body and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him...[and they] commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as he had been created in this flesh himself, by partaking of the coarse material that was organized and composed this earth, until his system was charged with it. Consequently, the tabernacles of his children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth.
— Brigham Young - spelling corrected

The prophet and president of the Church proclaimed this a matter of fact to the entire world. Folks even in HIS day didn't want to believe it. Orson Pratt, one of the Twelve Apostles, didn't want to believe it. It's just one of those stones in the pile - the ones rejected by the builders. But that doesn't make it any less foundational to our understanding of things as they really are. 

The Norse god, Odin, hung himself from the world tree

The Norse god, Odin, hung himself from the world tree

Can resurrected beings die? Adam did. If you search the world literature you'll find Adam archetypes that teach basically the same thing. For instance, take Odin of the Norse tradition. He, as a god, hanged himself from the "world tree", wounded himself with his spear, and fasted from food and drink for nine days and nights (could that be in reference to Adam's 9 centuries of mortality?) in order to "discover the runes" (ie. gain experience and wisdom). Then there's Osiris, the god who died by being cut into pieces by Seth (the Satan figure) and who then posthumously begot Horus (the Christ figure). Wouldn't it be sad to think that ancient Egyptians understood more about Adam than Latter-day Saints? 

What makes this discussion even more relevant is how it might pertain to the prophecy of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelations 11. I really believe it could be referring to Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Some have said so, and they suppose everything written in chapter 11 has already come to pass during Joseph and Hyrum's lifetime. Huh? I believe the scriptures are a little more literal than that. I would be *so* excited if it were them - but what would make it sublime is if they were to fulfill that prophecy in the future (which I believe is indicated) as resurrected beings - with fire proceeding from their mouths to devour their enemies and power "to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." Who says they can't lay down their lives, have their bodies lie at the head of the streets for three and a half days and then rise again? Joseph, himself, received the revelation about those who belonged to Christ, that "all things [would be] theirs whether life or death" (D&C 76:58-59).

Is the Bible Dictionary wrong? Not necessarily. It sounds to me like the first step in obtaining the keys to be able to lay down one's life is to first be resurrected into a body that is, by nature, no longer subject to death. If Jesus is correct when he said "strait is the gate, and narrow the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it"...chances are, most folk won't ever need worry about having to lay down their lives in the same way our Father Adam and Mother Eve did. 

What say ye?

Obedience and Sacrifice...and Beards


Every once in a while, I'll see an article online that talks about beards and how they shouldn't be a barrier to serving in the church.  I don't necessarily disagree.  It's just a beard after all.  At the same time, to those who think they shouldn't be asked to shave their beards to serve in a calling, I would say the same thing: it's just a beard.  We sustain our leaders when we harken to their counsel.  As it says in D&C 1:38: "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."  We are always blessed when we are obedient to the Lord's servants.

As I've been thinking about this issue, I couldn't help but think of the story of the rich young ruler in the New Testament.  Let me offer a slightly edited version from the account in Mark:

17 ¶ And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, shave thy beard, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had a great beard.

This story is always a sad one because we all recognize that the young man was choosing something temporal instead of something eternal.  I know I'm being a little unfair to guys with beards because this really applies to all of us.  We can insert pretty much any worldly thing into this story to make it apply to us.  Often, we tell ourselves that Christ(remember, if it's coming from His servants, it's coming from Him) isn't asking us to give up a certain thing, there are many things that He allows us to enjoy if we choose.  That may be true, but the real question is: if he did, would I obey?    If it's a small thing, we might think that it is inconsequential.  If it's a big thing, we might think that he surely wouldn't ask us to give up that.  If we are serious about gaining eternal life, exaltation, and all that the Father hath then the answer to the question: Will you give this up and follow me? should be, without hesitation, Of course!


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The paleo diet/lifestyle is based on nothing but the same hot air that keeps the great and spacious building afloat...for now. Do you remember the first time you ever heard someone explain to you that they were doing the paleo diet? And they, therefore, were going to cut out entire food groups such as dairy and grains? And that it was because that is how our bodies were designed to function at peak performance because our lean, buff ancestors back in the Paleolithic period used to eat that way? I don’t know about you, but my first reaction was to say, “Uh, our ancestors were WHO?! I don’t think so.”

I really didn’t think this post would be a necessary contribution to LDS recorded thought, until I did some poking around and was disturbed to discover that Brigham Young University offers classes on Evolutionary Biology. Huh??? My mind drifted back in time to the California junior high teacher who made us watch a 2 hour film dramatizing the nonverbal lives of a Neanderthal male and female, caked in mud (because they were obviously smart enough to understand it would protect them from the damaging UV rays of the sun).

Do we understand that the number of fossils scientists claim date older than 10,000 years could fit in a space the size of a porta-potty? Do we realize that several of the finds have been quietly recanted as errors? Here are some examples: 

- “The Piltdown Man” is a fossil supposedly found in the Piltdown gravel pits in East Sussex and was enthusiastically received as the missing evolutionary link between ape and modern man and was then displayed in the Natural History Museum of London for 40 years. It was exposed in 1953 as a forgery - the altered mandible and teeth of an orangutan paired with the cranium of a hundreds of years old man with an abnormally small brain. 

A 1915 portrait of scientists analyzing the Piltdown fossil. Note the picture of Charles Darwin on the wall in the background. 

A 1915 portrait of scientists analyzing the Piltdown fossil. Note the picture of Charles Darwin on the wall in the background. 

- “The Nebraska Man” was a figment of science’s imagination based on the discovery of a single tooth which turned out to be from an extinct pig. But before the remainder of the pig was excavated, Scientists had already been busy at work creating an elaborate museum display with pictures of what they envisioned Nebraska Man’s body would look like. They even gave him a family. 

nebraska man.jpg

-  The Neanderthals of Europe? Bits and pieces of humans from the Middle Ages, according to one recent study, here.

Note to the science community: your radiocarbon dating system is essentially the equivalent of reading the tea leaves. 

How can we trust the same natural history professionals that as good as buried the mound builders of North America (Smithsonian, I'm looking at you)? Why do you think the Nephite prophets had to work so hard to keep their records safe, burying them up in designated locations? Why do you think angels had to be given charge over them? It's because Satan has always sought to destroy the true records by inspiring his servants to alter them. 

Scientists: I don’t trust you. But do you want to know who I do trust? Pretty much just God. There are at least a few uncorrupted sources of information that are safe for me to draw from: unaltered scripture, living prophets and the Holy Ghost. All three of these tell me that the race of man, on this earth, began with Adam and Eve. How did they eat? Well...after their fall from a terrestrial to a telestial state, they sure ate grains! And their righteous posterity were keepers of animals, useful for milk, meat, eggs, fat, bones (hello, broth), clothing, etc. Did they "eat clean?" You betcha! Did they use Dicamba genetically altered seeds from Monsanto? Not on Adam's watch. Did they eat a bunch of meat? Maybe sometimes, I dunno. I bet it just depended. 

Scriptures indicate that the only hunters and gatherers were the more idle part of the people. Everyone else was growing crops and keeping animals. That's how OUR ancestors did things, and they lived to tell about it. So, PALEO, you're up in classroom 301 on the opposite side of the great and spacious building's nutrition department as VEGAN. If you want to move into a classroom with an actual foundation, try the one that houses Fasting 101 - fasting being a lost healing tool advocated by the likes of Brigham Young. 

What say ye? 

Who is the "Bright and Morning Star"?

From Ensign articles to the Bible Dictionary, we are given to understand that Jesus refers to Himself as "the Bright and Morning Star." Running alongside this interpretation are the elaborate metaphors of how Christ is like the planet Venus (Venus is the most universal interpretation of the morning star in our collective consciousness), dipping below the horizon as a symbol of death and its rising again likened to resurrection. But what if these comparisons are uncalled for? What if Christ wasn't actually referring to Himself as the "bright and morning star" at all? I think, perhaps, Catholicism has something to share with us about this star. Let's listen to what Jesus actually said in the ONE reference that has got us all spinning perhaps in the wrong direction:

South Carolina, Once Again, Commences the Difficulties

I used to believe the Civil War was fought over slavery. That was before I knew about the Proposed 13th Amendment of 1861 put forth to prevent secession by assuring the South of their states' rights to allow slaveholders to retain their human property. That's before I knew a lot of things I don't ever recall being conveyed to me during my public education. 

I happened to be revisiting D&C 87 and 130 in light of this growing conviction of mine and, wouldn't you know it, I began to WONDER how Joseph Smith could have linked the then-imminent Civil War with "the slave question." I then looked closer and was excited to discover that it appears he doesn't - but instead, he shares with us a foreshadowing of 2 distinct times of trouble. In an Isaiah-like fashion, his words may contain both an immediate application and an ultimate application; both the here-and-now and the latter-days. Check this out:  

1st, Imminent Application:

Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;
— D&C 87:1

Yes, this sounds like the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression (take your pick). 

2nd, Ultimate Application:

And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.
— D&C 87:1

This is the statement that, when we read it, we automatically lump it in with the Civil War - but I think it deserves a closer look and even a cross-reference with section 130. I, personally, don't think the time had come in the 19th Century. I think the time he's referring to was possibly 2015 or later. Stay with me...

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina.
It may probably arise through the slave question.
— D&C 130:12-13

As often as I've heard the explanations put forth up until this day that the Civil War marked the beginning of a long list of wars to play out across the globe, it just didn't work for me. I always longed for something a little more "al dente" - a little more firm and satisfying - than that. And, also in Isaiah-like fashion, as soon as the events were visible over the horizon, the prophecies started to make sense.  

Fort Sumter, South Carolina

Fort Sumter, South Carolina

South Carolina figures in as the birthplace of two rebellions. The first is, of course, the Civil War. The second is...I don't really know what to call it so let's just say: "the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man."

Before there was Charlottesville, Virginia, there was Charleston, South Carolina. The Washington Post connected the recent violence in Charlottesville with the June 2015 shooting in Charleston of nine members of a black congregation by proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof (who adopted the Confederate flag as one of his emblems). The Washington Post stated that after the shooting "officials throughout the South grappled with what to do with the controversial [Confederate] figures." The Guardian (13 August 2017) brought our attention to the February 2017 Charlottesville City Council decision to remove and sell the Robert E. Lee statue as "part of a wave of such removals of Confederate monuments across the south, which began after Dylann Roof massacred nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, SC."

I invite you to consider the possibility that Joseph Smith, in his revelation from the Lord, was referring to a second period of intense conflict beginning at the SAME PLACE as the one which precipitated the Civil War because if that is true, not only did he never name slavery as the reason for the war of his generation, but the verse following should interest us greatly:

And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.
— D&C 87:4

Average citizens of America and the world, as it is now, are the slaves in question, I think. And just to be clear - I don't believe the slaves are the ones marshaled and disciplined for war in this verse - I think it's the masters. This is a great place to mention the militarization of our police and so many other applications. This is something that all the well-meaning individuals attempting to interpret these passages for us could never have foreseen unless they had the same gift as the Prophet Joseph. We are entering into an era of slavery unprecedented in the history of this nation. How long will it last? I don't know, but the revelation contained in D&C 87 is both exciting and comforting because South Carolina could mark the beginning of an end. To a woman 9 1/2 months pregnant, the beginning of labor is a terrifying relief. 

What say ye?

Charlottesville and a resurrection of "the slave question" set in motion by events in Charleston, South Carolina

Charlottesville and a resurrection of "the slave question" set in motion by events in Charleston, South Carolina

The Day We Became More Good Than God

It has become obvious that the morally sensitive of our day cannot bear even the whiff of a mere memory of something as unkind as slavery. Never mind that we are fast becoming a nation of slaves, soon to lose sovereignty over things as fundamental as our own bodies or the bodies of our children (look up what happened to Charlie Guard or Parker Jensen). We are too good to countenance the very real, very necessary role that involuntary servitude has played throughout human existence. We are just too wise, too compassionate and too fair-minded for all of that. The problem is, there is something way more important than being good: it's being RIGHT. 

Every Herb In the Season Thereof

In commemoration of one of the most lively Sunday School discussions our ward has had in a good,  long while (of which I was merely a spectator), I really felt drawn to address the topic of D&C 89's disclosure that "God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man...every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof" (vs. 10-11)

Sacrifice and Eternal Parenthood

When we Latter-day Saints talk about the pain and inconvenience of sacrifice, we are often consoled by the idea that it will be for a "brief moment" (to borrow a phrase), that it is perhaps part of a test or a preparation, and that there will come a time when all sacrifice will be behind us and all that will be left would be to enjoy the bliss we have earned because of it. It sure sounds nice, but how can it be true? 

We Wouldn't Know the Almighty From Adam

There doesn't come along a subject more fit to WONDER about than the person and character of God. In His intercessory prayer, didn't Jesus say "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"? I believe we're at a hard place right now in our understanding of who He is, as a church, because of a lot of reasons.

Return of the Twin Relics

Slavery and polygamy, if you didn't know...they were the "twin relics of barbarism" denounced from the Republican platform in 1856. Most of us know the story of how slavery and polygamy were subsequently stamped out in the United States, but are we equally aware that Isaiah prophesied that both are slated to be practiced yet again in the Millennial day?

You Could Use More Dead People In Your Life

There are folks out there who are wiser than you, more cultured, experienced, endowed with greater perspective and, believe it or not, have a vested interest in the success of your life. The only problem is...they're dead. That shouldn't make a difference, though, should it? Aren't sisters of the Relief Society promised by the dispensation head, himself, that "if you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates"? (That's Joseph Smith, by the way).

Our Little Subservience Problem

Sometimes I can't help thinking, "Congratulations, womanity, you've been successfully and woefully distracted by one of the biggest non-issues ever" when I happen upon the griping that exists surrounding the obvious teaching in the gospel of Jesus Christ that the order of heaven consists of woman being subject to her husband. The apostle Paul makes it clear and so does the temple experience. 

Without Blemish, Neither From a Stranger's Hand

I'm pretty sure my jaw would drop to the floor if I ever heard anything mentioned in General Conference about why it's a good idea to eat only the flesh of animals that were healthy and happy in life. I'm pretty sure that's never occurred because I've searched and, to be honest, I am thankful our general authorities are not busy creating a list of carnal commandments for us to follow. At the same time, I have to say that, when I survey the animal-consumerism of my fellow Latter-day Saints, I'm pretty bewildered. *Everything* has a spiritual impact, including the life we allow to be taken on our behalf. 

Evil Does Not Create, Only Corrupt

I think the Lord must be about the best farmer there is. He knows that if you want a good crop for the next growing season, it is wise to save only the very finest seed from what you grew in the current growing season. That's the way to get the healthiest, strongest, most prolific and disease-resistant specimens possible. We can assume that He knows this because He has clearly outlined this practice as something that we can fully expect to be put into effect with us, His children. Of the three degrees of glory, only those who obtain the highest degree within the celestial glory are given the ability to exercise "the continuation of the seeds" (ie the ability to have children; D&C 131:1-4). The cream of the crop rises to the top, and those are the only ones creating lives in the hereafter. It is righteous eugenics. 

"By Their Sorceries Were All Nations Deceived"

If you hadn't fully appreciated the prophesies of Isaiah before, let me share with you one that will send chills down your spine, and it's only terrifying because it's what's happening now.

I might have given away from the opening image the fact that the Greek word from which "sorceries" is translated, throughout the Bible, is "pharmakeia." I hate to be redundant, but here is a caption from Strong's Bible resource:

Awakening the Remnant

Isn't there a literal awesomeness in watching prophecy come to pass?...How, sometimes, you can't imagine what a certain passage of scripture could portend until suddenly it becomes all too clear and happens all too fast. That's how I've felt about multiple references to "a remnant of the house of Jacob" who is foreseen to "go forth among [the Gentiles]" in the last days; and would "be in the midst of them who shall be many; and...shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces."