CHI #5


CHI #5

Section 4 deals with missionary service. There are a tremendous amount of procedures and regulations which are used to enable the church to have 50,000 plus full time missionaries serving around the world. I am not going to pick through all of the minutia to try and judge what is scriptural and what is not. The majority of full time missionaries are young men aged 19 to 22. The guidelines address them and their situations especially.

There is something which caught my attention. Section 4.10 is under the heading of temple recommends. This is concerning the issuing of a temple recommend as the missionary is released. The procedure is different for the young missionaries as for senior missionaries. For young missionaries the procedure is when a missionary finishes his 2 year mission the mission president interviews him and takes his temple recommend. He is then given a recommend which is dated to expire in 90 days.

The CHI directs the missionary’s stake president and bishop to interview him, commit him to live his covenants and maintain his standards, get him a calling and monitor his progress at adjusting back to normal life. And then when they are convinced he is doing well, and being righteous they issue him a regular recommend good for two years.

I will give the church leadership total benefit of the doubt that they have good reason for this rule. Obviously there must be a problem in this regard.

Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
I would say if a young man has truly just spent two years serving Jesus Christ he is not going to be at risk of committing transgressions to jeopardize his worthiness. Truly serving Christ is a good tree. It will not bring forth evil fruit.

What is happening? What is the corrupt tree which brings forth this fruit? I won’t try to answer that in detail. But there is obviously a corrupt tree somewhere. And to simply say that ’21 year old men are just that way’ or speaking the judgmental slur more overtly to accuse them of being inherently disposed to do evil, will truly hide the reality of the problem.

I believe there are at least two problems. First the rules missionaries are expected to follow are unnatural and external. Being cowered into obeying a set of restrictive rules by an organization that keeps close tabs on your behavior, I mean in some cases missionaries are required to call their leader every night to report they are in bed, is not righteousness. Righteousness is a choice freely made. Since it is not an exercise of agency it does not produce the blessings of being righteous.

Secondly what do we really think we are doing? God makes men and women a certain way. I believe 18 years of age is the time of maximum levels of sex hormones in a male (in some countries young men can serve missions starting at 18). He is the most fit and most eager to be wed. And we tell him to deny all these God given signals and become a monk while still moving among everyday life for two years. It is a recipe for tragedy. And I don’t mean just the tragedy of committing sexual sin on his mission. When you deny a healthy God given desire you must numb yourself to a sacred part of your soul. That does damage to your heart and mind. You think Satan doesn’t laugh his spiritual hind end off seeing all the damage which may extend for years for hundreds of thousands of young men?

I had never considered this a problem till I began looking at the reality of life. I was like many people in the church trying very hard to repent of being what God had made me to be. I was lucky to have the mission president I had so that my experience was probably much better. Yet it still did a number on my heart and mind.

From talking with other men who have served a mission I have seen that my two year mission was a departure from the norm. Not because I was so good and pure. I think I was as others my age. My mission president however was radically different in his views and actions towards us missionaries. He did not allow the white bible (missionary rulebook) to destroy his role as judge in Israel. On our mission the temperature got hot in the summer. He was asked what was the policy on wearing suit coats; optional after the 1st of May or anytime the temperature was above 90° or what? He said Elder I look at it this way, when it is hot and uncomfortable to have suit coat, take it off. And that was the rule.

We had Saturday as our preparation day. Our mission president was asked what were we allowed to do from Friday night at 9:30 till Saturday at 5 pm. He said Elders you are Melchizedek priesthood holders, you have made covenants with the Lord in His house. I expect you act like it.

That was his attitude toward the white bible and Salt Lake gave him static for it. We were one of the highest baptizing missions in the church and I know of myself pressure tactics and baseball baptisms were not practiced. We were not pressured or taught to have unreasonable goals for the number of discussions or baptisms in a month.

As I said my experience seems to be an exception to the normal missionary’s experience. I invite those with a different experience to comment.

For me adjustment back to non missionary life was nothing. A close friend of our family a few years my senior noted my relaxed attitude just one week after being home. He said, “Aren’t you nervous like you should be doing some missionary work right now?” Nope I wasn’t.

We might do well ask ourselves if it is wise to have a young man, who’s physical creation has prepared him be getting married at 18 or 19, deny those God given desires and become a monk for two years. What damage does it do to force ourselves to be numb to deep and sacred feelings? Is it in accordance with the scriptures? Is there anyone out there who has memories of how this affected them?

In case some may be thinking otherwise I am quite sure there was only one case of a missionary’s having to be sent home from our mission in the three years we had that president. And this was back in the days when we had about 450 missionaries per mission.

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Tribal Rituals


The performance of rituals is an integral part of all religions.  A ritual is some repetitive act that takes place at a set time and location.  Rituals also involve the use of symbolic objects, clothing, words, and hand gestures.

Everyone Participates in Rituals:

For example, going to church on Sunday is a common religious ritual for Christians.  As a ritual, it entails the donning of a different set of clothing, as well as interacting with others in a specified manner [hand-shakes, hugs, calling them brother/sister so-and-so, etc.] while gathered to a set-apart location.  Once gathered for this experience, members ritualistically participate in reenacting the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.

However, even for non-religious persons — Sunday may still be a day of ritualistic behavior.  Millions will don a different set of clothing that marks their favorite sports team, interact with others thru high-fives and various team cheers, all while gathered to a set-apart location [the stadium or the TV room].

Rituals reinforce the basic tenets of a group and facilitates bonding between the members.  When the Catholics, for example, participate in the mass — it is [for the members] a ritualistic participation in the body and blood of Jesus and, by extension, a communal affirmation of the acceptance of the administrators of the mass [the Catholic priesthood].

Rituals are often charged with high emotions.  The rush of brain chemicals and “good” feelings that people receive during rituals are what provide the positive reinforcement for continuing them.  This is the same mechanism that binds two humans together during sexual relations [which are themselves rituals].  All rituals that a person participates in makes him or her “feel good”, and thereby reinforces the belief that their group is “true” and reinforces the morals associated with that group.

The state also has rituals to bind the mind of the citizenry to the “national identity”.  For example,  within the United States — the pledge of allegiance to the American flag will often begin a government-school day or a public meeting.

Archetypal Rituals:

While many cultures do vary in the prevalence and forms of the more minor rituals — there are five main rituals [archetype rituals] that mark the progress of a member of the group thru the main stages of life.  Though they may vary slightly from group-to-group in terms of form and symbolism — any group, religion, tribe, etc. will have:

  • Birth Rituals
  • Puberty Rituals
  • Marriage Rituals
  • Funerals Rituals
  • Communal Meals

Within an LDS Context:

When a baby in born to LDS parents [some time within the first few months] the congregation will allow time for the father and other male family and friends to use the Melchizedek priesthood to place the child’s name on the records of the Church™ and to give a blessing by the influence of the Spirit.

When an LDS boy reaches age 12, he will be receive the Aaronic priesthood, in the office of deacon.  This marks his exodus from the female-dominated environment of primary classes and his entrance into the male-dominated environment of the Young Men™ program.

When an LDS couple decide to marry, they must participate in a large set of rituals.  First, there must be a temple recommend interview by both a bishop and a stake president.  Then, they will participate in a preparation class for the Temple™ that will be taught by a fellow member of their congregation.  There may also be more informal preparation of family/friends telling them what to expect, what kind of Garments™ to buy, etc.  Finally, there is the rituals associated with the Initiatory™, Endowment™, and Sealing™ ordinances.  In conjunction with this, LDS couples must also go thru the ritual of obtaining permission from the state to marry [as other non-LDS couples do].

Upon death, an LDS member’s family will typically organize a funeral service.  If this service is held in a Church™ building, then the bishop presides at the meeting and will conduct it.  If it is held in a home, at a funeral-home, or at the graveside, then the family presides.  Typically, families choose to have funeral rituals conducted by the bishop in a Church™ building.  As such, it is a Church™-governed ritual and the bishop is charged by the Oral Law to ensure that the funeral is simple and dignified, contains music and brief addresses and sermons centered on the gospel, and includes the comfort afforded by the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  An LDS funeral is an opportunity to teach the Gospel™ and testify of the Plan of Salvation™ — though they may also provide an opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased.  Such tributes will not dominate a funeral service.  Having large numbers of people share tributes or memories can make a funeral too long and may be inappropriate for a Church™ service.  Further, the Church™ will authorize the dedication of the member’s grave by a family member who holds the Melchizedek priesthood.

Communal Meals:

Finally, I want to discuss communal meals.  This archetypal ritual is particularly important because it occurs with more regularity than the “milestone” rituals.  A member of a group may participate in thousands or hundreds of thousands of these communal meals during the duration of his or her lifetime.

While the “milestone” rituals may provide the traveling guideposts on life’s journey [something to look forward to and something to always look back on], communal meals act as a constant boost and reinforcement for a person at more regular intervals.

Within an LDS Context:

The communal meal ritual is represented by the Sacrament™ during our Sunday meeting block.

Controlling the Communal Meal:

Because communal meals are more intimate [the sharing of food] and occur more frequently than other rituals — they carry with them great power to direct and connect the mind.  Thus, religions, states, and corporations seek control over them, to use them to concentrate power within their respective hierarchies.

A commenter on the Tribal Worship Services post noted that:

“Seems that you are looking for or seeking some form of “agape” feasting in which earlier Christians met for a common meal with each bringing some food; historical references do not clarify the earliest practice of such meals but there are lots of theories and ideas concerning it…

…By the way, the Council of Laodicea in 364 tried to outlaw the “agape” feastings for they were outside the “church control” – but they continued.”

Here is the excerpt from decision of the Catholic church in 364 AD:

CANON XXVII.

NEITHER they of the priesthood, nor clergymen, nor laymen, who are invited to a love [agape] feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order.

CANON XXVIII.

IT is not permitted to hold love [agape] feasts, as they are called, in the Lord’s Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God.

The Church™ likewise would not permit individual tribes within a congregation to utilize “the Lord’s House or Church” for their tribal worship services.  Church™ leaders hold full authority over the Church™ buildings [which power has been given them by the keys of the church] — and they use that power to provide a morsel of bread and a thimble of water to the congregations.  Further, they structure meetings according to the commandments of men [assigning talks, lessons, musical numbers, etc. in advance] so as to remove any chance of the Spirit manifesting herself spontaneously.  This is done to keep the members in a spiritually-starved state — so they must continue to come back and feed at the Church™.

The entrance of the television into family homes represents another attempt to usurp the power of communal meals to bind families together.  For a typical American child, the first meal of the day is eaten from a package and in front of a favorite television show.  This breakfast ritual ingrains the messages from the corporations in charge of the show’s content and the advertising commercials.

Next, this child will be dropped off at his/her government school.  Their next meal will come from the school’s cafeteria.  Corporations exercise their control over the food choices [most often thru vending machine choices, etc.] while the state has expressed recent interest in gaining more of that control.

Finally, the third meal the child will have again will likely come from a package and be eaten in front of the family’s favorite sit-com or sporting event — or maybe will be eaten in the child’s room alone.

Activating Tribal Meals:

In addition to tribal sacrament meetings [which is an important tribal ritual], tribes should also make a daily meal into a communal ritual.  Secular research has verified that the more often children eat a meal with the family:

  • The less likely they are to abuse drugs
  • The less likely they are to break the law of chastity
  • The less likely they are to commit suicide
  • The more emotionally fulfilled they are
  • The more healthier their eating habits are
  • The better they do in their chosen fields of study

A survey found that the 9-14 year-olds who eat dinner with their families at home are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and less likely to consume soda and fried foods.  Further, the average American spends more than 40% of the family’s food budget on meals outside of the home.  Plus, the average meal outside the home costs $8 per person — while in-home meals average $4.50 per person.  Also, the average restaurant meal has as much as 60% more calories than a homemade meal.

Thus, even if your current tribe still consists of a monogamous, nuclear family — Tribal meals can still have a profound impact on strengthening your tribe from conspiring groups.  Remove your tribe from the influences of manufactured entertainment and manufactured food.  Imagine your family’s diner table is the alter upon which your tribe will offer daily thanks for the blessings God has granted you.  Offer this sacrifice daily, at an appointed time.  Approach it as a ritual, invoke the priesthood to ask God for all things, form a prayer circle, etc. — and it will activate the unifying power inherent in rituals to bring your tribe closer together.

Next Article by Justin: The Tribal Church

Previous Article by Justin:  Tribal Connections

All About Christmas


The History Channel has done a top notch job at documenting Christmas, from its ancient origins to its current practice. If you ever wanted to know more about this fascinating worldwide holiday, click on any of the following articles and video clips.

Christmas (Article – Page 1, Page 2)

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.

Contents

An Ancient Holiday

Saturnalia

An Outlaw Christmas

Irving Reinvents Christmas

A Christmas Carol

Christmas Facts

 

Santa Claus (Article)

The man we know as Santa Claus has a history all his own. Today, he is thought of mainly as the jolly man in red, but his story stretches all the way back to the third century. Find out more about the history of Santa Claus from his earliest origins to the shopping mall favorite of today.

Contents

The Legend of St. Nicholas

Sinter Klaas Comes to New York

Shopping Mall Santas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

A Santa by Any Other Name

The Ninth Reindeer

 

History of Christmas Trees (Article – Page 1, Page 2, Page 3)

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Discover the history of the Christmas tree, from the earliest winter solstice celebrations, to Queen Victoria and all the way to the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree.

Contents

How It All Got Started

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Christmas Trees Around the World

Christmas Tree Trivia

 

Christmas Traditions Worldwide (Article – Page 1, Page 2)

Christmas as we know it today is a Victorian invention of the 1860s. Probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, our modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe. Discover the origins of Christmas traditions from around the world, like the Yule log, caroling and how Christmas is celebrated “Down Under.”

Contents

Sweden: ‘God Jul!’

Finland: ‘Hyvää Joulua!’

Norway: ‘Gledelig Jul!’

Jamestown, Virginia

Germany: ‘Froehliche Weihnachten!’

Mexico: ‘Feliz Navidad!’

England: ‘Merry Christmas!’

France: ‘Joyeux Noël!’

Italy: ‘Buone Natale!’

Australia

Ukraine: ‘Srozhdestvom Kristovym!’

Canada

Greece: ‘Kala Christouyenna!’

Central America

 

Christmas Truce of 1914 (Article)

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

 

Christmas Video (21 Video Clips)

Video Clip Titles

Evolution of Christmas

Christmas Becomes a Holiday

North Pole: Deconstructed

Strange Christmas Traditions

Evolution of Santa Claus

Origins of Christmas

Origins of Santa Claus

History of the Christmas Carol

The Life of a Christmas Tree

Christmas Light Technology

Christmas Light Fanatic

Crafting Glass Ornaments

Why December 25th

Fruitcake

Gingerbread House

Candy Canes

White House Christmas

Babe Ruth Santa

Christmas on the Western Front

The Christmas Tree

European Christmas Customs

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

Tribal Connections


I started writing this as a comment, but as I continued to write — I decided it would be best to make this into a post of its own.

Affecting Change:

I was once optimistic that my discussions with people in person and online could affect some greater change in the world at large.  When LDSA wrote that this posts should be considered open copyright — I agreed that perhaps distributing these ideas could play a part in the ushering in of the conditions for the great and marvelous work.

I despise echo-chambers — and while I think preaching to the choir has its place [hence my participation here], I’ve always felt that ideas also need to be floated among more hostile company too [iron sharpens iron, and all that].  I’ve done letter campaigns, anonymously e-mailed copies of the 2010 CHI to anonymous askers [read the end of this comment], and participated in many different discussions online.

However, two comments were written to me today that have caused me to change my mind.  One from the conversation here:

“Justin, this may make sense to you, but many people aren’t interested in putting themselves in a situation where they need to hide what they are doing from their ward/family and explain to church leaders that they are reinterpreting garment-wearing. Whether or not the church culture as a whole pays attention to the wording in the initiatory, we all know what rules you must follow regarding garments if you want to stay well-integrated into your ward.”

and the other from here,

“Justin:

In discussing the hierarchy and how some of these ideas exist in the LDS Church, it is taught, directly or indirectly.

“Always keep your eye on the President of the church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, even if it is wrong, and you do it, the lord will bless you for it but you don’t need to worry. The lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” – Marion G Romney
“When the Prophet speaks the debate is over”. – N. Eldon Tanner
“Follow your leaders who have been duly ordained and have been publicly sustained, and you will not be led astray.” – Boyd K Packer
The “12 points” recently discussed

These types of quotes are where it comes from. Whether this is what God intended or not is obviously up for debate, but within this organization, this is how it is.

Since there are no females in this hierarchy there is essentially no mechanism to change this, unless the hierarchy itself decides to change.”

There are three topics about which people will never change their views on as a result of a single conversation they have with another person:  religion, diet, and politics [This site is especially bold for trying to tackle two of them at the same time — however the same thing I’ve noticed among LDS sites is also happening within my diet community too].  For these three, change will only come after a singly large, devastating life experience or after a long course of personally-driven study and reflection.  This is not the means by which we can affect change.

Tribal Connections:

This was said before, but it bears repeating here — for the people who don’t follow the comments:

I have a feeling that people, (in particular, LDS), have a hard time grasping the concepts put forth in this post (and others like it) because we don’t have a clear idea of what the future should look like.  We see agriculture and money being passed around and know that these things have existed for thousands of years and we hear of prophets and righteous men and women tilling the ground, using money, etc., and we think that the gospel is designed for an agricultural, money-based lifestyle.

The gospel is flexible, adaptable to the conditions that exist among men, but it is not designed to leave men in those conditions, but to allow men to use the truths, principles and powers found in the gosepl to change them so that they match those found in the heavens.

Unless we look forward and use our imagination to envision what the future is supposed to look like, how in the world can we ever work to remove ourselves from our present, fallen condition into a more exalted, heavenly one?  It seems to me that mankind is largely spinning their wheels and letting the future bring what it may, without actually striving to shape it themselves…

…That’s okay for the rest of the Gentiles, but the Mormon Gentiles have been given the restored gospel and should be more enlightened than that.  We’ve got everything we need to establish the future God has designed for the Earth.  We just need to organize ourselves into cohesive, gospel-based tribes and make it happen.

We only have our tribes.  Even non-religous observes have noted that the collapse of this system of -isms and -archies is imminent, and that survival will be tribal.

As I noted in Connecting with Pixels, the Lord is about connecting humans to other humans.  That is what activating tribal worship services, tribal family units, and a strong tribal priesthood is all about.  Our online discussions are only valuable insofar as they aid each of the readers in making these connections.  This is not the connection.

If we aren’t walking away from our computers and working to establish and spread our own tribes, then we have missed the mark.  [The reader may already know this — I’m just acknowledging it out loud for myself.]

I’d be interested in hearing reports on how others are doing at establishing the tribal connections among their own families.

Next Article by Justin:  Tribal Rituals

Previous Article by Justin:  Money-free Communities

Money-free Communities


Many are wary of priestcraft among us.  I am one of them.  I heard an author being interviewed on the radio a few weeks back.  He wrote a compilation of all of the statements Jesus made in the New Testament, organized under about 200 topics.  He spoke about how important it is for “Christians to have access to the words of Christ,” and how “no one can have eternal life without abiding in His words.”

I immediately thought of the post I linked to above when I began searching for the author’s material — only to find everything leading me to a place to buy his book.  One would think that if a person complied such an important index of the saving “words of Christ” — that they would want any believer to have free access to it [Just as Jesus offered free access to his words when he spoke them].

At the author’s Amazon page, I learned that the book he had written previous to the one I was interested in outlines the story of how he flunked out of every job he held in his first six years after college.  But then, upon studying Solomon [“the richest man alive“], he found a way to “achieve greater success and happiness than he had ever known — thus making him a millionaire many times over.”

The book discusses each of Solomon’s insights and strategies into attaining wealth with anecdotes about the author’s personal successes and failures — as well as those of  Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Steven Spielberg.

That was all I needed to know about this man.

Money is a key of discernment:

A true key for discerning a part of Lucifer’s Babylonian control system is the requirement of money.  Nothing in Babylon is given as it is sought after or desired — but only as a person has earned it or has the means to purchase it.  In contrast, the gifts and powers of God come only thru asking and thru agency.  They are freely given and can only be freely distributed.

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

The idea of a community having a money-free system is often criticized as being “utopian” [as is also said of tribal marriage systems, anarcho-primitivism, and anarchy in general].  I have been told by many that:

Your theories are very romantic and idealistic.  And like all those other great idealistic theories are confounded by the fact that men and women are sinners, we rarely live up to our own ideals, and our incredible powers of rationalization most often outweigh true justice and equality.

Given our flawed natures, biblically-based political theories aren’t particularly realistic to put forth.  I can’t help but think that the realistic scenario of your theories would be a decentralized tyranny of very pompous, self-righteous men exercising self-righteous dominion over their families.  I’m not sure I would trade that for a centralized church leadership’s more mild tyranny.

Such criticism is likewise leveled at the concept of establishing money-free systems.  However, one will find that humans are prepared to work for nothing — given the condition that they can partake for nothing.  Or, as Jesus described it:

…freely ye have received, freely give.

For example, this website contains the work of several contributes — all readable for free.  Other examples include:  filesharing sites, open source programs, Wikipedia, community/volunteer events, church programs, apprenticeships, etc.

Why you won’t hear more about money-free systems:

If any community within a state were to adopt a money-free system, then tax revenues will start to decline.  Further, any monetary penalties designed to encourage or discourage certain behaviors [taxes, penalties, duties, fees, etc.] will become largely ineffective methods of control.  Such a community will decrease the power of the state and centralized banking interests as a result of increasing personal freedom and independence.

Tribalism is the key to opening up money-free systems:

Typically, even the mention of money will increase the competitiveness in people.  Therefore, were a community to develop on the basis of a money-free economy — it would be more likely to engender cooperative behavior.  In a money-free community, leaders must find other incentives to encourage members to do tasks they wouldn’t otherwise do for “free” — a task that would require leaders who are willing to serve [instead of rule] and are willing to govern with persuasion, patience, gentleness, kindness, meekness, genuine love, etc.

This makes the priesthood the best organizing force  — and tribal plural marriages the best organizing structure — for a money-free [or Zion-like] community.  Priesthood holders accept, by covenant, an obligation to selflessly serve and unconditionally love all who are the concerns of their stewardship.

Zion will be money-free:

A money-free community would need great intimacy and connection among the members.  LDS Anarchy commented [at a site I do not recommend commenting at]:

The church is lacking in intimacy and connection because we are all still strangers.   The only way to achieve Zion, or even a Zion-like atmosphere at church is for the men and women to all be connected to each other through covenants.  As it stands, we are connected to Christ through covenants, but not to each other.   As long as we remain unfettered by covenant relationships with each other, we will never achieve Zion and our conversations (and actions) will never approach the level of intimacy and sharing required of that ideal.

Only thru the increasing the covenant bonds that connect humans together can  Zion begin to emerge as a mode of human organization.

When humans lived in the Edenic state of hunter-gatherer, multihusband-multiwife tribes — currency did not exist.  The idea of “having any money” was foreign to Adam — who only kept the tokens associated with his priesthood.

However, the 10,000 year explosion, the dawn of sedentary agriculture, and the associated appearance of states necessitated a commodity that was easy to store and handle in order to facilitate trade among the growing communities of largely un-connected members.

Any return to such a paradisaical lifestyle will only be associated with complimentary return to the manner of connectedness and cooperation humans shared before statism, monogamous family-units, and monetary-based systems of exchange.

Next Article by Justin:  Tribal Connections

Previous Article by Justin:  Seeking the Good of Others

New thoughts on prayer


My prayers are largely ineffective

Everyone in the gospel has a weakness. Mine is prayer. Although I have received answers to prayer on many occasions, for the most part it has been hit-and-miss. During times of sin, this is understandable, but during times of righteousness, unanswered prayers can be awfully frustrating, especially in the light of the Savior’s promise that whatever we ask for in faith, nothing doubting, would be received.

It is written,

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4: 3)

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. (2 Nephi 4: 35)

The word amiss is an adverb that means “in a faulty manner; contrary to propriety, truth, law or morality.”  This means that if a person prays to God for something and does not receive, he is praying incorrectly.

Starting from scratch

I once learned from a certain person that most men, when trying to win the hearts of women, will use the techniques they think are best. If their techniques don’t work, they try harder, using the same techniques. The idea is that if the square peg ain’t going in the round hole, use a bigger hammer. The wiser course of action, though, would be to re-evaluate the techniques and perhaps throw them right out the window and start altogether from scratch.

This is what James McCanney did when tackling the prime number enigma (which he ended up breaking as described in his Calculate Primes book). I heard that he took all the books and papers he had in his library about prime numbers and put them away, out of sight, and then took months of time to work to forget it all. When the information that others had written about prime numbers was completely out of his mind, he looked at prime numbers with a clean sheet and was finally able to crack the code, without any false presuppositions to cloud his view.

In the same manner, I decided a few days ago that everything I thought I understood about prayer was wrong and threw it all out the window (mentally).  So, with this absolutely clean slate in front of me, I looked at prayer again.  Here is what I saw:

What prayer isn’t

Prayer is not how we talk to God, nor how He talks to us. When we pray, we are not to be picturing God in front of us, or standing on a cloud above us, or sitting on a throne, etc. Prayer is not designed to be a conversation, similar to one we would have with another person, with the exception being that we can say anything we want to say, and bare our whole souls without fear of judgment because the person we are talking to is mute (doesn’t talk back) and invisible. Prayer is not even communication, in the typical sense, with anyone, at all. It is not meant to be the means to tell God what we need or want or desire. He already knows all that. In fact, prayer cannot tell God anything more than He already knows. Nor is it designed to reveal us to ourselves. It is not intended to express or reveal how we feel, such as gratitude, praise and desires, or fears, guilt and hatred. It is not designed to humble us or make us feel guilty or miserable or lowly or meek, by kneeling down, folding our arms, bowing our heads, speaking in reverent tones, using reverent language, lifting up the arms, prostrating oneself, etc. It is not so that we convince ourselves to repent or that we are okay or that the principles of the gospel are true, etc. It is not designed to be a psychological tool, although it can be used as one. The frequency of prayer is not random, nor are the types of prayers offered. In short, virtually everything I thought I knew about prayer is wrong.

What prayer is

Prayer is an ordinance

Just as the sacramental prayer is, in fact, nothing more or less than a prayer, yet we consider it a sacred ordinance of the gospel, all prayers are likewise sacred ordinances of the gospel. They are performed by the power of the priesthood. Not the Melchizedek, Aaronic, Levitical or Patriarchal orders of priesthood, but a different order available to all the children of God, priesthood being a divine language. Nevertheless, all priesthood is Melchizedek, meaning that all priesthood power and authority is an appendage of the Melchizedek priesthood.

Prayer is a role play

The words of the prayer are the words that God wants to hear.  They are the words that Jesus Christ would say in our place.  We are not to say what we want to, or feel like, saying.  We are only to say what God wants to hear.  (And it is through the scriptural patterns of prayer that we learn what God wants to hear.)

Prayer is an exercise to develop the right-brain-heart

In a previous post, I wrote:

Belief, Doubt and Prayer

The right-brain-heart is the believing brain, whereas the left-brain-mind is the doubter, unless the belief is based upon logic, facts, peer-reviewed evidence, etc. So, when the Lord instructs us to pray in faith, believing that we will receive, nothing doubting, he is explaining the manner of using both hemispheres of the brain. Verbal prayers require the left-brain-mind, while faith and belief both originate in the right-brain-heart. And by saying “nothing doubting” He is explaining that the left-brain-mind is to speak but do nothing more. So, there is to be no conflict between left-brain-mind and right-brain-heart. Belief and faith are to come from the right-brain-heart without any doubt from the left-brain-mind. In our prayers, then, we are to be one, meaning that our left-brain-mind and right-brain-heart are to be united, with the right-brain-heart in its proper role as the primary and dominant brain. Prayer, then, becomes a means whereby we may train our left-brain-minds to be subservient to our right-brain-hearts.

Prayer is to be performed in a temple of God

The kingdom of God is within you, said Jesus. It is located in the right-brain-heart. It is the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells. When we pray, we are to mentally enter this specific temple and offer our prayers there, in the midst of the right-brain-heart. We are not to imagine looking outward at an image of God, but are to imagine looking inward into this eternal area of man, even the organ of eternity. Only by mentally entering and focusing on this organ, which is eternal in its scope, being patterned after the brain of God, can we access its powers and gifts and fully develop them.

Prayer is to be performed vocally three times a day

Just as the sacrament ordinance is performed routinely (weekly), daily prayer ordinances are to be offered up morning, mid-day and night, creating a routine. These are vocal prayers in which the individual enters the temple of God and performs the ordinance with mind, body and spirit.

Prayer is to be performed vocally and in secret (in one’s heart), publicly and in private

These prayer ordinances, when performed in one’s head, are done using mind and spirit, but not the body (for they are not voiced out loud). This means that we speak in our minds, hearing our own voices in our heads, but not in our ears.

Prayer is to be carried around in one’s heart continually

This refers to prayer done using only the spirit. It means to remain centered or focused on the right-brain-heart, meaning that we imagine that we are still in the confines of this sacred, inner temple, and that we feel towards God continually, praising Him, thanking Him and asking Him for blessings upon us and others using only our feelings, with no mental or spoken words.

Prayer is to be done with family and friends

The promise is that when two or more are gathered in the Lord’s name, He will be there and whatever they ask in faith, believing they will receive, will be granted. All of the family or friends gathered should be “in their temples” for these prayers to be effective.

Prayer, whenever possible, is to follow the true order

The most effective prayer is one in which the ordinance is done in complete union. The true order of prayer given during the endowment shows, first of all, that such a prayer is to be offered only in the temples of God (the right-brain-heart) and secondly, that each person is to repeat the exact words offered by the one acting as voice. In this way, all voice the same prayer. Although the church will crack down on anyone attempting to perform the full true order of prayer outside of a church temple, meaning that the signs of the priesthood are made also, anyone can gather around an altar and perform the true order of prayer outside of a church temple and merely leave out the signs. As long as each of them are focused on their right-brain-heart (their inner temple), the Lord will bless them even as they ask.

In the ordinances the power of godliness is manifest

Without the ordinances of the gospel, the power of godliness is not manifest. This is why the ordinance of prayer has been given to us, all of us, that we might have the power of godliness manifest to us in the flesh. But unless the ordinance of prayer is performed properly, no power will be manifest.

Everything is found in the right-brain-heart

It is not necessary to feel what you are praying for. Everything is found within the right-brain-heart, all variations of feelings. So, even if you don’t feel grateful, once you mentally “enter” the inner temple of God and begin to pray, you can speak words of gratitude in truth. Every feeling is there, perhaps found buried deep within, but there nonetheless. We are directed to praise God, even if we don’t feel like praising Him; to thank Him, even if we don’t feel thankful; to ask Him for all things, even if we don’t feel faith. The inner temple is an environment devoid of doubt. It is endless and therefore contains endless power and possibilities. Once we “enter” it, or center our thoughts upon it, looking inward and not outward, and then begin saying the words of the prayer, not what we want to say, but what we think God wants to hear from us, the temple comes to life and responds with faith, powers and gifts. Prayer is an ordinance that trains us to be like Christ because once we enter the inner temple and voice a prayer that God wants to hear, we speak the words of Christ, for only prayers that speak the words of Christ please God. Prayer trains us, then, to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, for the Spirit speaks the words of Christ and when we pray in the Spirit, we also receive in the Spirit.

The routine of prayer is necessary

We are commanded to say so many daily prayers, of the three types (spirit-mind-body, spirit-mind and spirit-only), because this is a training ordinance. Man learns by doing. He learns to walk by walking, run by running, ride by riding, talk by talking, etc. Prayer can only be learned and mastered by praying. And it must be mastered by all disciples of Christ. But repetitively praying amiss does nothing except causes doubt and despair to come upon us. So, a proper understanding of what prayer is, how to perform it correctly, and why we need it is necessary for it to have its designed, divine effect upon us.

The reason why prayers are ineffectual

People are not praying in inner temples of God. That is the main reason. They are praying as if they are speaking to some invisible, mute person. They are saying words that they want to say. They are not trying to please God with their words, but are only saying what they are thankful for, instead of thanking God for everything; they are only confessing the hand of God in the things that they can see it in, instead of confessing His hand in all things; they are only asking for those things they want or those things they think they can get, instead of asking for all things. They are only praising God when they feel like praising Him, and not all the time. They are in the wrong environment. They are utilizing only the left-brain-mind, which is selfish. (The right-brain-heart is selfless.) They are looking outward from their perspective, not inward from God’s perspective.

Once we look inward, at ourselves, as if we were God (or Christ), and pray after this manner, always remembering that God dwells in the right-brain-heart and not the left-brain-mind, and thus looking to or “entering” the right-brain-heart, our prayers will become effectual and we will receive what we ask for.

Conclusion

I admit that this new way of looking at prayer may not be correct. I am currently trying it out, testing the waters, so to speak. I plan on reporting whatever results I get from this new understanding and prayer experiment. If anyone would like to try to pray in the manner explained in this post and report back on their experience, with comparison to how they normally pray, that would be great, also. I would recommend an extended test, such as a seven-day experiment, with three vocal prayers a day minimum, including all the other prayers we are supposed to do, but always in the way stated in this post.

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The nature of authority: the Lord’s stewardship law


The word steward comes from stigweard, lit., a sty ward. Stigu means sty and weard means warden, guardian. A sty is a pen for swine and a ward is one who guards. A steward, then, is someone who guards or protects or is responsible for something that belongs to another or for someone that serves or pertains to another.

Originally, a steward in England, under feudal law, was “a household officer on a lord’s estate having charge of the cattle; later, a head manager in the administration of a manor or estate, presiding at the manorial courts, auditing accounts, conducting inquests and extents, and controlling the husbandry arrangements.” In general, a steward is “a man employed in a large family, or on a large estate, to manage the domestic concerns, supervise servants, collect rents or income, keep accounts, etc.”

Stewards are not owners

Stewards do not own the concerns which they manage nor are the servants which they supervise their own servants, but the servants of the steward’s lord. Thus, we find the Lord saying:

And if the properties are mine, then ye are stewards; otherwise ye are no stewards. (D&C 104: 56.)

Stewards and stewardships are for probation

Obviously, the Lord owns everything, so He tests His children by granting them a temporary stewardship and then seeing how they act in it.

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abraham 3: 25.)

Rendering an account of one’s stewardship

At some point, every steward must give an account of his or her stewardship, both here on Earth and later at the day of judgment.

And verily in this thing ye have done wisely, for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity. (D&C 73: 3.)

And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment. (D&C 70: 4.)

Good and bad stewards and their rewards

Depending upon what kind of steward we are here on Earth, so shall be our eternal reward. Those who are faithful, just and wise stewards get the top reward.

And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life. (D&C 51: 19.)

And he that is a faithful and wise steward shall inherit all things. Amen. (D&C 78: 22.)

While those who are wicked, unjust and unwise stewards don’t get so much.

And in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, [the Lord] will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers; even in outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. (D&C 101: 90-91.)

Stewards possess authority

A stewardship (the office of a steward) comes with authority, or, in other words, a steward is given both authority and responsibility in order to manage the concerns of the stewardship. If you don’t have a stewardship, you don’t have authority. The authority of a steward is a set of keys, just as the original stigweard held the keys that opened the swine pens. These keys allow the steward to protect, guard, maintain and take care of the concerns in his or her care. Without such authority, a steward can do nothing.

In the case of a stewardship that supervises people, the authority of the steward is only valid as long as the people being cared for sustain him or her as their steward. In other words, there is a second set of keys held by the people who have claim on the steward as their steward and it is this second set of keys that allows the steward to operate in his or her office. Without the consent of these people, the steward cannot do anything in righteousness.

Parental stewardship

D&C 83 gives the order of parental stewardship as follows:

Verily, thus saith the Lord, in addition to the laws of the church concerning women and children, those who belong to the church, who have lost their husbands or fathers: Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the church. And if they are not faithful they shall not have fellowship in the church; yet they may remain upon their inheritances according to the laws of the land. All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age. And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritances. And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor. Amen.

Whoever has claim upon another for his or her spiritual or temporal maintenance is the concerns of the stewardship and whoever is responsible for the maintenance is the steward. Therefore, according to this revelation, parents are the stewards of their children and husbands are the stewards of their wives.

This arrangement does not go both ways. Children are not the stewards of the parents because they are not responsible for providing spiritual or temporal maintenance for their parents. Nor is the wife the steward of the husband because she is not responsible for maintaining her husband in his spiritual or temporal needs. If stewardship could go both ways, husbands could have claim upon their wives and parents upon their children. Although there may be many husbands who might love to relinquish their family stewardship to their wives and allow her to support him and their children, under gospel law it doesn’t work like that.

Children are also given stewardships

When children are old enough to obtain some responsibility, they may receive a stewardship from their parents. Perhaps they must take care of their room, keeping it clean and tidy, or their clothes, making sure they are folded and put away, or some household chores, such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, doing dishes, or, perhaps they are given a temporary stewardship over their younger siblings, looking over them and watching out for them while their parents are engaged in some other aspect of their own stewardship.

Stewardships in the church

Every church calling is a stewardship with responsibility and authority, and may be of a temporal and/or spiritual nature. The steward uses that authority to manage the concerns of his or her stewardship, which may include supervising, teaching, and/or leading people. So, for example, a bishop is the steward of the ward and the entire ward is the concerns of his stewardship. An elder’s quorum president is the steward of the elders quorum, which are the concerns of his stewardship. A Relief Society president is a steward and the society members are the concerns of her stewardship. A visiting or home teacher is a steward and the families or sisters being visited are the concerns. Etc.

Stewards and concerns likewise judged

Just as every steward must render an account of his or her stewardship to the Judge of us all, so the concerns of a stewardship will have to render an account of how they acted toward the steward. The steward is the Lord’s representative, empowered to take care of the concerns of the stewardship. Any interference with a steward’s divinely appointed duties is treated by the Lord as if it was done to the Lord of the steward Himself.

As long as a steward is acting righteously, meaning that he or she is acting in the stewardship in the following way—

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of [a stewardship], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.  (D&C 121: 41-44, re-worded a little.)

—those who have claim on the steward are bound by the Lord to use their second set of keys to authorize the steward’s own set of keys (his or her authority). If the steward is not authorized by the people concerned with his or her stewardship, yet is acting in righteousness, these people stand condemned by the Lord.

The principle is this: respect all stewards and stewardships insofar as they act righteously.

It is wickedness

Thus, it is wickedness to do away with a steward and stewardship granted by the Lord because this is how He tests His children. For example, some in the world would do away with the stewardship of the parents by granting the State stewardship over the children. This is wickedness. Others would do away with the stewardship of the husband, claiming that this diminishes the role of the wife. This is also wickedness.

Another form of wickedness is the interference in the operations of a steward’s duties. For example, no one is to perform the duties of the steward, other than the steward himself. If you do this, you interfere with the test, for the Lord appoints stewards and then steps back to see what he (or she) will do. Even if you think you can do a much better job than the steward, you are to step back, like the Lord, and let the man or woman perform, or attempt to perform, the duty. Another way to interfere is to withhold your authorization from the steward, so that he cannot perform the duties of his office and calling because you (the concerns of his stewardship) do not authorize him.

Finally, those who are not a part of the concerns of a stewardship, when dealing with a steward, should respect his or her calling, and recognize both the authority and responsibility that the steward has in managing his or her concerns. It is disrespectful and offensive both to the steward and to the One who appointed the steward to not recognize the stewardship, authority and responsibility that was given to the individual by the Lord.

Stewardships and equality

Stewardships are, by design, not equal. The Lord places one steward to preserve, maintain and increase a small amount of property, while another steward is placed over ten times as much. A pair of parental stewards may care for three children while a different pair may watch over ten. It is the inequality of the stewardships that adds to the test, to see what the children of God will do, both the stewards and those they look after.

Nevertheless, the gospel provides means whereby the unequal stewardships may become equalized. This is done through covenants.

Therefore, verily I say unto you, that it is expedient for my servants Edward Partridge and Newel K. Whitney, A. Sidney Gilbert and Sidney Rigdon, and my servant Joseph Smith, and John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, and W. W. Phelps and Martin Harris to be bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression, except judgment shall immediately follow, in your several stewardships—to manage the affairs of the poor, and all things pertaining to the bishopric both in the land of Zion and in the land of Kirtland; for I have consecrated the land of Kirtland in mine own due time for the benefit of the saints of the Most High, and for a stake to Zion.

For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.

Behold, here is wisdom also in me for your good.

And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just—and all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God. (D&C 82: 11-19.)

So here we have the Lord telling these nine stewards to bind themselves to each other by bond and covenant in their several stewardships, so that they become equal in both earthly and heavenly things.

For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion—for a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven; that you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.

For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things; for if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you. (D&C 78: 3-7.)

The equality spoken of in these verses is all-important, yet unobtainable except by voluntarily entering into covenants, including marriage covenants, with other stewards. The Lord then creates a perfect test by first giving out unequal stewardships and then explaining how to equalize everything, with attendant blessings should His children decide to use their agency to that end.

He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things; yea, even more abundantly, which abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit. Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. (D&C 70: 12-14.)

Stewardships are meant to be increased

Every steward is to maintain, preserve, care for, protect, guard and increase his or her stewardship. Thus, missionary work is based on the law of stewardships. And when we hear the phrase, “multiply and replenish the earth,” that is also the law of stewardships at work. And so, parents, if able, are expected to bring more children to Earth.

Keep this law in mind

It may be beneficial to keep the law of stewardships in mind when dealing with stewards, whether they are found in one’s family, in the church, or in the world at large. A proper understanding of this law may make it easier to accept the steward’s authority, and a corresponding proper action towards that steward may make it easier to live other parts of the gospel and to stay in the Lord’s favor.

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