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I have been a subscriber to the Church News for a long time. Living out in the so-called mission field, it was a weekly touch point with my roots and the heritage I claimed. On occasion, I would see a name or a place that brought back memories of my younger days and the somewhat idyllic visage I held of the dry, dusty desert in which I was born.

For many years, the Church News was delivered  wrapped in plastic and folded such that the religious content was not easily recognizable. Now things are different. The Church News comes wrapped in Mormon Times; a weekly periodical that not only expands the coverage of events of the church but also carries within its pages the proper Mormon-sanitized advertisements from places like LDS Travel and The Missionary Depot.

This week’s (August 7th, 2010) front page ad from Mr. Mac touts “Testimony tested, Wool and Wool Blends, Solids and Stripes, Stretch arm holes, Reinforced seat and crotch.”

In another prominent position, the half page advertisement on the back page encourages you to “start saving today” at Zions Bank.  I am not sure what their tag line means: “We haven’t forgotten who keep us in business.” Does this refer to the bank’s origin as a ‘sacred’ institution or to its care of the riches of modern-day Mormons? Inside you can find more advertisements encouraging you to buy genealogy software, or expand your years supply, even your very own ‘title of liberty.’

As I pondered the situation, the weekly arrival seemed to speak in symbolism. Much like the Church News is now wrapped by the messages of buying and selling, so was the temple at the time of Christ where convenient merchants ringed the facility proffering their ‘church approved’ doves, lambs and other emblems required in religious acts.

Have we fallen victim to the same rationalization as the moneychangers in the temple? Have we deemed it acceptable to wrap the ‘good news’ of the church with tempting offers of merchandise? Many of you will scoff and scorn at this idea. Why shouldn’t the Church News be wrapped in an ad for Zions Bank? It’s simply how we operate in these modern days. This serves as a reminder to me that there may be many rites and rituals we perform today that may not be acceptable to the Lord.

Should we be concerned by the continual encroachment on the sacred by that which is profane and worldly? Should we be concerned when the message of the church is wrapped by the message entwining testimony and a reinforced crotch?

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

2 Nephi 28:21

What are the warning signs of ‘carnal security?’ Should we be concerned when Zions Bank prospereth? Carnal can be defined as temporal and worldly just as easily as being defined as marked by passions and sensuality. Does Mormon Times represent that worldly security that encloses the words of the church?

The message here is that the gradual and imperceptible slippage into the world has been underway for many years. The latest issue of Mormon Times is simply a weekly reminder.

What think ye?

15 Responses to “Testimony Tested and a Reinforced Crotch”

  • Thomas Parkin:

    Zions Bank is an oxymoron.

  • Spek, I appreciate the warning voice that you lift up on the Internet, as well as certain other Mormon bloggers. Since getting the glimpse into where the Mormon church is headed, I read all these bloggers’ writings and often agree with them, but have felt, of late, that these are useless efforts. Even my own writings seem to me to be in vain. They may influence a few saints who wander in, but cannot reach the remnant among the masses of the church, who need to hear these messages. I get the feeling that what is needed is to directly take these messages to these people.

    Now, I’m not saying that it is not worth it to influence a few people, but I’m not sure that now is the time to passively lift up the voice and wait for people to wander in. I get the feeling that we are nearing the end of the unified church and that what is now needed is to actively get these messages right in front of all the people, instead of hoping and waiting for people to surf in from somewhere and read them.

    Again, I’m not saying that people, just yet, should be standing up in church and calling people to repentance. That is not the indication I’m getting. But I am getting the feeling that Internet preaching is not enough. We need direct preaching, calling each member out individually, but in an anonymous manner (at first).

    I think I’m going to try a 2-cent or Return-to-Sender mailing campaign. May I use one of your posts? And if so, which one would you like to send to people?

  • LDSA,

    I understand where you are coming from, but I do have a different perspective on the situation. I don’t think there is any way to influence the bulk of the TBMs in the world today. My writings are targeted for those who have, for many different reasons, come to question the status quo in the church. Based on my experience and some of the people I have known, this is necessary before anything I say makes sense

    I believe that one has to have some sort of an ‘awakening’ as to the situation in the church before they can fully grasp the messages that you and I are presenting. I am not expecting my message to be generally accepted in the church. I am hoping that those who have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and/or Joseph Smith’s mission would consider my perspective when they are confronted with the cognitive dissonance abounding in the church today. The message I keep coming back to is that the Book of Mormon predicts the apostasy of the LDS church. I understand we differ in some aspects of that message.

    I believe that God will give each of us an opportunities to seek greater light and knowledge. If we ignore that opportunity because we like the social aspects of the church or we like the safety of being saved because we do our home teaching, fulfill our calling, and attend the temple, then so be it. In that case our ‘eternal’ progression may take a little longer.

    So, in essence, I would be satisfied if there is only one person that finds my message this week as a prompting to seek more wisdom from God. That is ultimately where each one of us must go to receive the true blessing of the gospel as defined in scripture. His church consists of those who repent and come unto Him, no more, no less as found in D&C 10:67.

    Spek

  • Thomas,
    It isn’t an oxymoron to those who believe the gospel of prosperity. I agree with you that the two words shouldn’t be used together.
    Spek

  • Tom:

    The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary lists “carnal,” as its primary definition (among others) as anything “opposed to spiritual.” That, indeed, can be very broad and certainly there are many (most) things that can fall within that broad brush.

    Occasionally I’ll troll on over to Deseret News to see what they’re saying, though it’s down to only about once or twice per month. Today I read an article (recent article I surmise) given at the BYU summer commencement. It was a talk about the promised land(s) and how the promised land is no longer a place, physically at least, but rather “a way of life.” There is no physical promised land anymore.

    I looked briefly for the entire transcript in order to get a better feel for what William Clayton was trying to say, but couldn’t find it. As published by Deseret News, however, it seemed like little more than attempts to rationalize and justify our ability to benefit economically from our schooling. One quote suggests, “”You who graduate today stand on your own river bank or ocean shore, on the edge of your futures. You look off into the distant years before you, searching the horizon for your own promised land that flows with milk and honey.”

    Again, I’m making an observation here that may be entirely wrong if I had the entire transcript to read, but I’m left to believe that my “promised land” flows with milk and honey after years of toiling in Babylon, earning Babylon’s pay. Kind of odd, or so it seems to me.

  • Tom:

    P.S. Can I get a “reinforced crotch” testimony by buying one of those suits? If so, sign me up. Sounds like a great bargain.

  • Tom,
    It doesn’t look like the speech has been posted yet. It appears the the commencement ceremony is no longer available online. I would expect it to be on the BYU website once it is transcribed. I would be interested in reading/seeing the talk.Your comment reminded me of the comment in 3 Nephi 27 about being able to enjoy the works of men for a season. It has been a long time since I heard words regarding a return to Zion preached from the conference pulpit.

    I am sorry but you may have misunderstood the testimony thing. It isn’t a ‘reinforced crotch” testimony. It is a suit that is testimony tested; that a testimony borne by its wearer will have the same viability as the Emperor’s new clothes.

  • I recall Hugh Nibley in his book “Approaching Zion” listing a whole bunch of examples of businesses like Zion’s Bank that used the word Zion in their names but which, like banks, are the antithesis of a Zion society.

    Tom, your mention of the promised land is one more example of the essential doctrine of the gathering of Israel being further backed away from. Astounding, the chutzpah of these guys.

  • A Woman From Utah Accuses Mormon Prophet Of Attempted Rape!

  • Tom:

    So I finally came back to this post and finally dug up a copy of Clayton’s (“The Promised Land”) exact transcript. Here it is:

    http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=13193&x=48&y=6

    A pertinent point of his speech (as it regards to this post):

    “First, the promised land today is not likely to be a place like it was in Old Testament times or even for the pioneers. Instead, the promised land is a way of life. It is found in living life in a manner that qualifies for the fulfillment of divine promises. This is achieved when we follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). King Benjamin taught, “Moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41). “Blessed in all things” usually does not mean blessed with all things. The promised land means that we will have sufficient resources for our needs and even some of our desires. But, more important, it means that as a result of our sincere striving and our earnest efforts, we will be blessed with freedom from contention, from envying, and from strife in our homes (see 4 Nephi 1:18) and sustained with forgiveness of sins, peace of conscience, charity, meekness, joy and rejoicing in our posterity, and peace with our neighbors.

    Second, since today the promised land usually isn’t a place, we can find it wherever we are. While we naturally look out to the horizon and plan for and work toward a future day, the promised land is here and now. It is found in the way we live each day, confront each challenge, and move forward with faith…”

    There is a lot more in his speech. I did especially like his rationale for using the second premise, “…since today the promised land usually isn’t a place… .”

    Anyway, thought you might like to read it and respond.

    • Ajay:

      I keep reading the phrsae seed of Cain in Mormon posts.I can’t find the phrsae anywhere in the Genesis narrative. Where does it come from?The closest the narrative gets is in Gen 4:25, but that only refers to the provision of Seth as a replacement for Cain.The Mormonism of BY and co. attempts to interpret Gen 4 as a literal mandate for its dogma that blacks are inferior to whites (grindael did an thoro job in demonstrating that from their doctrines). On a broader note, I find this more than faintly ridiculous;1 There’s the Mormon escape route of not translated correctly (AoF8). How do we know that our versions of Gen 4 are telling the story truthfully? Why base your doctrines/opinions on something that could be completely wrong?2 How do you get from a curse on Cain to a curse on his descendants?3 How do you know that blacks are Cain’s descendants?4 Imposing this viewpoint on Gen 4 misses the point of what it is trying to say.If the purpose of Gen 4 was to pinpoint the divergence between one (genetic) race and another, then surely the story-teller should have taken more care to resolve some rather obvious paradoxes (Who were the people that Cain was protected from? How can he become a wanderer and then settle in a city? What became of his descendants during the Flood?).It makes far more sense to read the story in the context of this is what happens when you murder your brother . The dynamics of sin, judgment, exile, God’s providential protection (even to murderers), and God’s faithfulness to humanity then play their parts as they should.Forget the racism angle on Gen 4. It’s not about race.

      • Spektator:

        Away,
        The seed of Cain is also mentioned in the Pearl of Great Price, which notes that the seed of Cain were black.
        I can’t add much support to the LDS Church’s support for the non-doctrine relative to blacks and the priesthood. To me, it was just another example of some of the radical concepts that BY taught as doctrine.

        Spek

  • Tom:

    P.S. Isn’t it interesting that Clayton said that “OUR” striving and efforts will naturally result in: (a) freedom from contention, (b) freedom from envying, (c) freedom from strife in our homes, (d) sustained forgiveness of sins, (e) peace of conscience, (f) charity, (g) meekness, (h) joy and rejoicing in our posterity and (i) peace with our neighbors.

    Am I wrong to think these things simply don’t result from “OUR” striving and “OUR” earnest efforts? For example, does “our” striving and “our” efforts produce forgiveness? Does it produce peace with our neighbors? Does it produce charity? Does it eliminate strife in our homes? Does it eliminate envying? Does it produce peace of conscience?

    Even the use of 4 Nephi 1:18 is bizarre in this context. No discussion of Christ, or His atonement. No discussion on gathering as a group. No discussion on how charity is a gift. The greatest of all (Mor. 7:46). And yet here we’re told it’s something we can earn as a result of our own efforts, while Moroni tells us it’s something that is a gift.

    Maybe I’m stretching.

  • Tom,
    Glad you stopped by with the reference. I read Clayton’s talk twice but it came out the same way.

    To me, the ‘promised land’ is as described in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 57:

    “1 HEARKEN, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
    2 Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”

    I am not sure you can be more clear. Yes, Dorothy, Zion is the land of Promise, and it is in Missouri not a state of Kansas/mind. Sadly, convincing those who call themselves Saints with smooth words that tell them they are already there is an easy task. It makes life so much easier when you have already achieved your goal. What I hear him say is that we should not be yearning for Zion, but be satisfied with our current circumstances whatever they may be.

    Are we not to follow this admonition? “…we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

    No mention of Christ is not uncommon among general authorities. A good example of this for some of us of the older set is Vaughn J. Featherstone. I want through the last 20 years of his talks in general conference. The number of time he testified of Christ: 0. The number of times he used is own name: 11. I think I know who was more important to Vaughn J.

    What is the answer to your question of the fruits of our labor? If our striving and earnest efforts are focused on building up the works of men the following is applicable:

    “10 And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.
    11 But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.”

    I believe we can have joy for a season in the works of man. To have true joy, we must come unto Christ. He alone can grant us a remission of our sins which is orders of magnitude beyond any earthly gift or glory.

  • Spektator:

    I should note that the Mr. Mac advertisement on the front page of the Mormon times was recently altered. The text now reads:

    2 Pant Suits starting at
    $169.00
    Missionary Tested, Wool and Wool Blends,
    Solids and Stripes, Thousands in Our Inventory,
    Stretch arm hole, Complete line of Clothing

    It seems that Mr. Mac either read my blog and felt compelled to make a change or they simply ran out of ‘testimony tested and reinforced crotch’ suits. Now you can only have ‘missionary tested’ suits. Oddly enough, these are priced the same as the testimony tested version, which I personally think are more valuable.

    By the way, it is good to be back after some changes to my life and to the website. Anyone that subscribed to comments will need to resubscribe as I had to relocate my hosting to a new server.

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