A Price For Wisdom

...Weston A. Price, to be exact. What he could teach us about the spirit of the Word of Wisdom! He was the intrepid dentist who, in the 1920s, set out around the world to find the answer to the question of why he was seeing a degradation of good health and physical perfection in his patients of the rising generation. He visited places that had remained untouched by what he called "the displacing foods of modern commerce" (things like white flour, white sugar and vegetable oils - which should really be called seed oils). 

What he found was that peoples eating their native, whole foods diet had extremely good facial structure and teeth as well as excellent health. He also noted that when individuals from the communities he studied ventured into areas connected to the commercial network and began to eat a commercial diet, their health decreased and the children had by them did not have the broad facial structure and good teeth that their native kinsmen had previously enjoyed. Faces got narrower. Teeth became crowded in the mouth and required braces. The rate of tuberculosis (a killer at the time) skyrocketed.  

 Compare the narrow lower third of the face on the left to the wide fully-formed face on the right. Same potential, differing diet.

Compare the narrow lower third of the face on the left to the wide fully-formed face on the right. Same potential, differing diet.

He wanted to know what those with healthy, broad faces were eating! He wrote about twelve different isolated communities he had visited, from Switzerland to Polynesia to Peru. Their diets were different, yet contained a common theme: nutrient dense animal foods. He did not find a single incidence of healthy-offspring-producing populations that ate only plant foods. And there were special animal foods revered by each culture for their ability to ensure the ease of delivery of beautiful children, such as organ meats and the bright orange butter of cows eating new pasture in the Spring. These kinds of foods gave expectant mothers the building materials of sufficient quality to create healthy bodies for their children.   

I'm not going to lie. The first thing I thought of when I heard about Dr. Price's work was about how interested I'd be to see myself if I had been put together with sufficiently better materials. My orthodontist had to pull FOUR OF MY TEETH before I even got my braces on so that my smile would fit into my head. The thought shifted my focus to the resurrection, when we will be put back together again with either celestial, terrestrial or telestial building materials, depending on what our spirits are equipped to support, right? And according to an undamaged blueprint (thinking DNA, here). I think about what a disservice I have done to my own children, having conceived them while trying my dutiful best to adhere to the low-fat diet advanced by those donning the white labcoats and credentials of a false priesthood.

Does our diet influence our ability to live righteously? Dr. Price was very interested in how nutrient dense foods affected the morals of society. He was struck with the fact that the prisons of his day were not filled with the physically "robust," but the "frail, sickly and infirm." (W.A. Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, pg. 15). I wonder what he would think of the pandemic of sexual deviancy we are seeing today (there is ample evidence that physical factors such as environmental pollutants play a hand there.) Or what about the plummeting of faith in the true and living God? Is there a physical degeneration that is keeping pace with or maybe even preceding a spiritual one?

Dear Adversary, you currently have us in a tight position, physically and nutritionally and, if I were you, I couldn't have planned it any better. Inspiring scientists to make it so that even the God-ordained "staff of life" can't be tolerated by growing numbers of individuals? Genius. (Monsanto, and every other man-made plague contributing to leaky gut, you've got the job done - wheat is now the enemy!). Using your minions to facilitate the astronomical rise in the price of living so that scraping by requires, more and more often, a second income? Stroke of brilliance. Keep the moms...heck, even the grandma's busily employed for a taxable wage outside of the home so that they have to go buy the kind of kibble you endorse, instead of making real food for their families. I see what you're doing there with the mandatory vaccination agenda and I've got to hand it to you...pretty soon you will have managed to get every single body, gifted by God himself, to fight against itself (hello, autoimmunity). What a terrifyingly poetic triumph. 

Still think the takeaway from the Word of Wisdom found in D&C 89 is about how much of the “flesh...of  beasts and of the fowls of the air” (ie. Lean meat) qualifies as "sparingly?" (Here’s a tip: don’t eat lean meat! Always eat it with a portion of it’s fat). Shouldn't we be wiser than that? I can't think of anything the Lord would care about more than the tabernacling of His spirit children with healthy bodies - bodies that stand a chance...morally, emotionally, spiritually and in every way. I think Dr. Price has struck on the very essence of what D&C 89 and pretty much every word of scripture is about. 

What say ye?

Recommended Reading: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS. 

Or get the essence of his research from this video presentation by the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon Morell. It’s called Nourishing Traditional Diets, and it is riveting.

 

The Drunkards of Ephraim

I’m sorry to be the one that breaks it to you...but those in some of the highest levels of leadership are on the Adversary’s payroll. We have an infestation by secret combination. Please don’t tell me that you can’t see it because I’ll only feel sad for you - kind of like how I’d feel sad for a physically blind person who, I’m sure might be a terrific individual with wonderful abilities...just not the one ability necessary for doing some important things, like knowing what’s right in front of their face. I’ll let you argue with Isaiah when you see him, because he had this to say: 

 “1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:

4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.

5 In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people.” Isaiah 28:1-5

If you try to search commentary for Isaiah 28’s “drunkards of Ephraim” you’ll turn up some disgruntled ex-members of the Church and Fundamentalists, who hope that the drunkards are a reference to the current leaders of the LDS Church because a few verses later Isaiah teaches that “the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink”. And then, unfortunately, even the TBM’s don’t have a shred to add to our understanding. We can do better than that. 

Who are the “drunkards of Ephraim” scheduled to get their comeuppance before the second coming of the Lord? Isaiah chapter 28 doesn’t seem to be talking about corruption of any acknowledged clergy but the ripening for destruction of the false priests and false prophets at the head of our nations - mainly the United States and Great Britain (nations dominated by the blood of Ephraim). Keep in mind that “the crown” - those giving the orders and running the show - aren’t even necessarily elected officials. Couldn’t they include those in intelligence organizations and banking institutions? The usage of the words “priest” and “prophet” should clue us in to the fact that these leaders are receiving revelation, but it is from a false god - howbeit in a coordinated, orchestrated way.

    You'll notice the lion of Judah alongside the Unicorn of Ephraim depicted in this insignia for                                                                     British Intelligence

   You'll notice the lion of Judah alongside the Unicorn of Ephraim depicted in this insignia for                                                                     British Intelligence

 

How funny we are when we think that only the work of the Living God (as opposed to the Dying God - which is His opposite) can be well-organized - that only the God of Abraham can have ordinances,  covenants, officiators, representatives, priests and prophets. 

When I think about the confusion over what’s going on in Syria and the rest of the Middle East, currently, with the flip-flopping of stories and official positions, it’s almost too easy to picture the goings-on that must be happening in secret, influencing what we see and hear without giving us a clear picture of the reasons. I imagine it's not too different from what Hosea described about Ephraim's activities in his day:

Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.
— Hosea 12:1

There is a dichotomy that exists wherever there is righteous leadership. The tribe of Ephraim is tasked with taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, and that’s what we have been doing. But an opposite, detrimental task is also being performed and it’s being spear-headed by...you guessed it...by members of the house of Ephraim. To me, it echoes the IRONY that Adolph Hitler and the German people, themselves Semitic (Semites = descendants of Shem), should lead the anti-Semitic movement of the day. It also brings to mind Amulon, the Nephite, who became king of the Lamanites in order to become the great oppressor of the Nephites. 

Consider “the priest and the prophet” of Isaiah 28. They have reportedly “erred through strong string” and “are swallowed up of wine...They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” What is the wine with which the “drunkards of Ephraim” are intoxicated?  

Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
— Revelations 17:1-2

 

There are some great take-aways from an understanding of just exactly who the Lord is referring to in Isaiah’s prophecy. First of all, when we see these things coming to pass we can take comfort in knowing that not only does the Lord see what’s going on but that he foresaw it. Isaiah described this era of gross decadence in our leadership as a fading flower, indicating that it won’t last forever. He also speaks of the “residue of his people” that will remain faithful to Him.

Being painfully conscious of just a small percentage of the vomit that is covering the tables of our nations, it is a glorious thing to have the commiseration of someone like Isaiah, speaking for the Lord Himself. Besides...being "asleep" isn't that far different from being in a drunken stupor, is it?

What say ye? 

 

Wise As Serpents

winged brass serpent.jpg

One of the consequences of rejecting certain foundational teachings of earlier prophets, such as Brigham Young,  is that we find ourselves ever learning but never coming to an understanding of the truth. This is never more apparent than in the case of serpent symbolism. We agree that Satan is represented in the Garden of Eden as a serpent and we also agree that Jesus Christ is compared with the brass serpent raised up by Moses in the wilderness. What we haven’t been able to reconcile is the reason why they share the serpent as their representative. Some say that it was Christ’s before the foundation of the earth but that it was usurpeded by the Adversary (like so many other symbols have been). Some don’t have any explanation at all. But the answer is simple. 

 Nehushtan Manuscript Illustration from 12 Century. (Bibliotheque Nationale de France)

Nehushtan Manuscript Illustration from 12 Century. (Bibliotheque Nationale de France)

First let it be noted that, although the account in Numbers 21 omits the fact that these were “fiery flying serpents” we are talking about in the story of the brass serpent, 1 Nephi:41 makes that point clear. Moses would have made a brass image of a winged serpent and lifted it up on a pole. It's strange that the Bible should have omitted that because the early Christian fathers seemed to take that fact for granted.

What's more, across ancient cultures there is a wealth of imagery and lore connecting winged serpents with the divine, either as the attendants of gods or the gods themselves. Consider Quetzalcoatl of the Aztec tradition, whose name means "feathered serpent." We're not so much interested in the feathers as we are in its wings. Then we have the winged serpent chariots of gods such as Cronus, Medea and Demeter, as shown below.

What is it about winged serpents that makes them an appropriate figurative description for gods and their attendants? Remember what the Lord told Joseph Smith in answer to his question about the meaning of the four beasts spoken of by John the Revelator: "they are figurative expressions...to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order." The beasts surrounding the throne of God had wings that, according to the Lord, "are a representation of power, to move [and] to act." So the wing part of the equation is easy, thanks to modern revelation... and the serpent part should be easy as well, if it were not for the fact that we have regressed in our knowledge base.

Serpents are known to shed their skins. There. That's the secret. That is what makes them a fit symbol for resurrected, immortal beings. They shed their dull skins and emerge bright and new, recreating themselves afresh over and over. Sometimes we’ll see the snake eating it’s tail, called the Ouroborus, which is a redundancy on the concept of immortality. The phrase "be ye wise as serpents but harmless as doves" is a truism not because the snake is innately wise but because the serpent is (for the reason just stated above) representative of the immortalized being who, through age and experience, is wise.  

Wait! You say. How can the serpent be a symbol of Satan if he is not a resurrected, immortal being? Ahh. But, you see, in the Garden of Eden, he was. He is like Aphosis (Apep), the evil snake of Egyptian mythology, in the story of the Ished Tree, who was dismembered by the god Ra in the form a a great cat. Like our own scriptures teach, in a veiled sort of way...Lucifer had a resurrected body, but he lost it. Nevertheless, he is still referred to as that "old serpent," a dragon even (whose wings would imply that he had greater power to move and act at one point in time). 

apophis.jpg

Wait! You say. But how could the brass serpent represent Jesus Christ if Christ obviously would not have been a resurrected immortal being until AFTER he was lifted up on the cross? 

14 ¶ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3: 14-15

The answer lies in the transcendent, eternally reaching nature of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, coupled with the fact that He is a link in the chain of redeemers. It was revealed through Brigham Young that "sin is upon every earth that ever was created. . . . Consequently every earth has its redeemer, and every earth has its tempter” (Journal of Discourses 14:71–72). Hence overlapping into our round of eternity, like one link of a chain overlapping into the next link, is the eternally reaching atoning power of the resurrected, immortal savior of our Heavenly Parents who, we are told (thanks again to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young), passed through experiences similar to ours. After Christ's resurrection he became the "mediator of the new covenant" reaching both forward and backward within the scope of this eternal round and overlapping into the next link of eternity.

But that isn’t all. When you search for serpent symbolism across cultures you’ll come across some real gems. Below is a depiction of Fu Xi and Nu Wa, the mythological serpents who created humans in Chinese lore. They are the Chinese version of Adam and Eve. In an earlier post about Adam and Eve we talk about how they would fit the serpent symbolism perfectly.

chinese adam and eve.jpg

It is thought that the word seraphim has to do with the Hebrew word for snake, “saraf.” Seraphim would mean “serpents.” How interesting, then, that D&C 109:79 prays “that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around [the] throne [of God.]” As reflected even down through the convolutions of mythological record, the serpentine attendants of the gods are surprisingly akin to the “seraphic hosts of heaven” (D&C 38:1). But what are they, really? 

The serpents of ancient lore have such varying degrees of mobility (ie. legs vs. no legs, wings vs. no wings) it's likely to be a reflection of the different orders and classes of resurrected, immortal beings, to borrow language from the Doctrine and Covenants. Now, when we are told to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" we might understand to what we actually aspire.

What say ye? 

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. 

ArtBook__091_091__MoroniAppearsToJosephSmithInHisRoom____.jpg

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.

root cellar.jpg

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
                             Jerusalem 

                            Jerusalem 

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

brighamyoung.jpg

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

paleo diet.jpg

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.