The Things We Refuse to See

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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 see ourselves as 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

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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!

Paleocrity

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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. 

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-  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. 

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."

Seas of Glass

I have often WONDERED...if our universe is filled with earths that have undergone their probations and been sanctified and immortalized, becoming seas of glass, wouldn't there be some sort of indication that they're out there? I mean, we're not talking about elusive spirit matter - matter so fine it goes undetected by science even though it is in us and all around us. We are talking about solid, corporeal (howbeit pure and perfect) matter. Where are all these seas of glass hiding, where past, present and future meet? 

Kinderhook Revisited

The story of the Kinderhook Plates among Mormon apologetic literature is a sad reminder of the frequency and extent to which the Prophet Joseph Smith is simply not believed by LDS academics and apologists to be exactly who he claimed to be. There is ample evidence to support the fact that the Kinderhook Plates (KPs from here on out) are as genuine as the Prophet said they were.

Slandering the Staff of Life

When it comes to wheat, I am ashamed to admit that we are a generation of Indians blaming the arrow. And for a while I, too, bought into the idea that modern wheat is poison. We blame wheat for everything from brain fog to celiac disease and decry that man, through his tinkering, has ruined one of God's best gifts. And while I admit it certainly appears there is continual warfare against the grain by all that is unholy, overwhelmingly I am convinced that wheat is still the best gig in town. Tell me honestly, who except the self-deluded can get excited about a cauliflower pizza crust?