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It was five years ago this month that this blog became a reality. I had been commenting on blogs for a number of months when LDS Anarchist invited me to guest post on his blog. I found it presented an outlet that I had been searching for; an opportunity to virtually commune with others who had similar views but also hear the alternative perspectives that were graciously provided. I am grateful to Adam and JR for their early support. I am grateful for Jack who brought his ‘orthodox’ views to the pages. I appreciate the handful of people who stopped by to offer words of challenge as well as encouragement. Each word, each comment that landed on the littered landscape I call my worldview, tilted it in various directions. I am a better man because of these interactions.

The blog was originally entitled “The Fulness” and was housed at 2k12.net. I decided to change the name because I had another website by the same name and I was beginning to see confusion. The original Fulness site (fulness.com) was stood up in December of 2008. I can best describe it as the summary of my spiritual perspective after struggling through eight years of the trial of my faith. Today, it is as close to a ‘shrine’ as I am willing to go. The words on that site poured out of my feeble brain over the Christmas holidays. I had finally put the sequence of ideas and topics in an order that appeared logical to me (your mileage may vary). It represented my first attempt to understand what the gospel meant, what doctrine was of most worth, and what Christ expected of His church. It was a site where I first captured the broader consequences of being a Gentile in this day. And finally, it was where I began to understand what the true future of the restored church was to be.

Kindred Spirits

This month has been a time of building associations with others who share concerns about the direction of the restored church. To my delight, I was able to have dinner with Tim of the blog entitled ‘Latter Day Commentary,’ Will (and children) of the blog  ‘In 200 Words or Less’, and Log who has been prolific in this comments on various topics.

This was followed by an opportunity to rub shoulders with the people behind Mormon Heretic and Pure Mormonism. It is such a refreshing and buoying experience to break bread and discuss spiritual matters not constrained by correlation. I found we were all seeking further light and knowledge. It was reconfirmed to me that there are people who are seeking to come unto Christ and fulfill the definition of His church in D&C, section 10:

65  For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts;

66  Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.

67  Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

68  Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

69  And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

I take the Lord at his word. I espouse the idea presented in this scripture that His church is made up of those who repent and come unto Christ, no more and no less. Anyone who attempts of redirect our attention to the works and words of men is not of His church.

The Mormon Inquisition

It now appears that, in order to be a member in good standing, one must not only support and sustain the brethren, but also conform to their view of the current version of doctrine and, amazingly, of historic events. Straying outside the acceptable bounds of the narrative currently espoused by the leadership of the church  is met with decisive action of ‘eternal’ consequences. The excommunication of Denver Snuffer, and the ongoing questioning of anyone who publicly supports the scriptural basis for his teaching claimed another victim recently. Will, the proprietor of the blog “in 200 Words or Less” was excommunicated for apostasy. This action represents a gross injustice, in my opinion. The idea that people can use the internet to express legitimate concerns regarding the historicity of church claims and doctrine and suffer excommunication without any dialogue seems to follow the same path of other inquisitions. Is there a significant difference between the actions of the Spanish Inquisition where non-believers were given the choice of either conforming to the precepts of the Holy Roman Church or be dragged through the streets until they were dead and the virtual ‘slaughter’ of one’s eternal salvation that is represented in excommunication?

As I pondered this pathetic situation, I have determined that message delivered by President Uchtdorf in the 2013 October General Conference should be clarified with the necessary caveats. Rather than simply saying to those who have been estranged from the church, “Come, join with us,” his message should include the following ‘fine print.’

All are welcome to join us, except those who differ from the current church leadership on the interpretation of church history. Also, anyone who dares interpret scripture that, in any form, represents a concern regarding the legitimacy of the church claims to authority. Please don’t join us if you believe there is any validity to the warnings in scripture regarding the condemnation or possible apostasy of the church. One can only join is if they accept the non-scriptural guidance that the Lord will not permit the church to go astray. Please leave your desire for meat behind as discussion of the mysteries of God is not permitted. Do not share any misgivings about the doctrinal shifts and the policy changes as these are an affront to the inspired leadership of the church. Please refer to the website lds.org regularly to ensure that you are in compliance with the current version of church history and doctrine.

Mothers Day

Kirtland TempleThis past Mother’s Day was the most unique in memory. I was able to attend a the Sunstone sponsored service in the Kirtland Temple to commemorate the holiday. What made it different? Perhaps the fact that there were only women on the stand; that women gave the opening prayer (my dear wife) and closing prayer and the lone instrumental musical number was presented by the token male on the program. The speakers recited their thoughts of the divine feminine – that oft marginalized Goddess who represents our spiritual beginnings. They spoke of the early beliefs in the church of a ‘shared’ priesthood between a man and a woman.  They shared the frustration with current male domination of the corporate church and the one-sided nature of the eternal relationship as defined by the current leadership. It helped me understand the Ordain Women movement.

But from my, perhaps, unique viewpoint, I am not sure it is worth the effort. Why would any woman want to partake of a corrupt priesthood when she has within herself the ability to accomplish the miracles that have evaded those who claim the keys?

The service on Mother’s day was the culminating event for the Sunstone Kirtland Symposium. This was my first experience with the Symposium and one that offered a richness of thought and provoked my heart with misapplied stereotypes. I was pleased with the diversity of speakers from Jessica Kimball who recited her experience as an intern in Nauvoo to Ross Osmond’s description of the stages of faith as applied to organizations. It was will worth the trip; especially when you consider that I was honored to spend the long weekend and a number of hours in the car discussing doctrine with Rock (Pure Mormonism) and Connie Waterman. Thank you for joining us in the Ohio.

17 Responses to “Five years and counting”

  • LDSDPer:

    were there a number of separate meetings? I had understood that all the original Mormonisms would be there–

    How wonderful that Rock and Connie were able to attend!

    Yes, these are fearful times. My husband and I reminded each other before church today, “watch your words”–

    inquisition is a good way to put it–

  • Spektator:

    No other formal meetings. Here is a link to the agenda for the Kirtland Symposium earlier this month.

    https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Kirtland-Final-program-updated-5-4-14.pdf

    Of course, the Community of Christ was a very gracious and caring host. The Strangites and Brighamites were also in attendance. The gathering was quite small as it seemed the presenters outnumbered the attendees. I hope they will continue the event in the future.

    We also went back through the Kirtland Temple on the standard tour. I felt enriched as I pondered the significant historic events that took place within those walls and as I walked where so many prominent names had trod.

    Spek

    • LDSDPer:

      Thank you; I looked it over. I’m not surprised that some ‘worn out/exhausted’ (I can’t think of a better word just now) Mormons have found refuge with the Unitarians (or Pagans)–

      Our local Unitarians are unquestionably kind and hospitable. They especially support the arts, inviting musical groups (mostly classical/ensembles) to perform in their inside courtyard, where the acoustics are very good.

      A family member recently went through horrific treatment at the hands of LDS in-laws and was driven away, left to live in his car. We were making attempts as LDS family members who didn’t want to see this happen to give refuge ourselves, but being much farther away, it wasn’t working out. And the family member wanted to stay in that area.

      A Pagan took him in. Another family member finally got to where he/she could visit our loved one and said the Pagan has as Christian a spirit as any Christian he/she has met.

      I have begun to wonder why so many LDS have such little capacity to accept differences. Not long after we enjoyed a beautiful concert at the Unitarian church a ward member (our home teacher) made a comment when we talked about how kind the Unitarians were to musicians, “but they believe in just anything and everything”–
      and I thought, “why does that matter if people have charity?”–

      I actually live east of the Mississippi and might have been able to attend that conference, were it not for physical impairments. I think it would have been wonderful. I, too, question why anyone would want the priesthood at this point. It does seem to have become a rather fuzzy entity. I think it can only be of value when the person who ‘holds’ it is truly humble and righteous.
      But I am glad the Ordain Women association had a safe place to express themselves; that is of value alone.

      • Spektator:

        LDSDPer,
        I was most energized by the opportunity, both inside and outside the sessions, to actually speak freely about spiritual things. Not something I can co with most active members of the church.

        Your story reminds me of narrative in Mosiah, chapter 4 verse 26, where Mosiah told them that if they wanted to retain a remission of their sins they would impart of their substance to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to them both spiritually and physically.

        I have known good recommend-carrying members who don’t see need for anything but a checklist. Most of the time, that list has no compassion or mercy on it, just the physical acts defined as being a good Mormon. So sad… I spent much of my life in that mode..

        By the way, given we live in Northwest Ohio, it was only a 2 hour drive to Kirtland.

        Spek

  • Seeking to be Astonished:

    I recently came across this quote and found it encouraging:

    Persons sometimes say that they have enjoyed the spirit of the work as much since they were cut off as while they were in the Church. Have they enjoyed the Spirit? Yes. Why? Simply because they were wrongfully cut off. They were cut off in such a way that it did not take the Spirit of God from them. And the reason why they were cut off was because they did not come up to the particular standard of perfection of those who dealt with them, or they did not come up to their feelings.

    Francis M Lyman, 2/15/1862
    MS 24:100

    • Spektator:

      Thanks for the very interesting quote. I find that many people believe that man holds the key to the blessings and covenants. I disagree. The blessings and covenants are connected to God. If the ‘separation’ is not approved by Him, I would expect the excommunication to be null and void? That would be reasonable.

      Spek

  • Log:

    Spektator is being kind by not mentioning the fact that my voluminous writings are matched by propensity to wax loquacious in person. I apologize again for monopolizing so much of the brief time we had together over the meal you generously provided.

    My comments here of late have been limited because, well, there’s not so much to say about certain topics – for example, preaching the cross of Christ is perfectly scriptural. What would I have to add to that? When you’re right, you’re right. And on topics where the scriptures are silent, usually so am I.

    With respect to the inquisition you mentioned – I think what’s going on is the same process described in “The Unsolved Loyalty Problem: Our Western Heritage“. The powers that be believe “The Great Apostasy” was a result of rejection of priesthood leadership, as priesthood leadership is construed in today’s Church. Therefore, anyone claiming authority felt to be the sole possession of the Church is seen to be a competitor to the same, and public acceptance of the claims of competitors contra the Church’s claims is therefore on its face seen to be disloyal / rebellious towards the Church – they’re trying to stave off another “Great Apostasy.” As “The Unsolved Loyalty Problem” shows, however, force produces the opposite of loyalty; loyalty cannot be compelled nor coerced, even if conformity can be.

    Haven’t they read their Nibley?

    • Rob:

      Or haven’t they read Talmage’s “Great Apostasy,” whose thesis is that the event was caused NOT by the death of those “with keys,” but by the inclination of those in leadership to decide doctrine by fiat and council instead of revelation? Ironic that up is now down and down is now up…

    • Spektator:

      Log,
      You have already apologized for your perceived monopolizing of the time. Just to be safe, I will bring an egg timer next time.;>}

      Rob,
      I still have the copy of Talmage’s The Great Apostasy that I purchased in preparation for my mission. This is a discussion worthy of its own blog but it is interesting to note that Talmage noted three primary reasons for the apostasy from an internal perspective:

      1)The corrupting of the simple principles of the gospel by the admixture of the so-called philosophic system of the times.
      2) Unauthorized additions to the ceremonies of the Church, and the introduction of vital changes in essential ordinances.
      3) Unauthorized changes in Church organization and government.

      He then spent a chapter on each of these topics. Are there similar discrepancies between the revealed word of God and the church today? All of these, I believe can be summarized by Christ’s warning against the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding teaching as doctrine the commandments of men…

      Spek

    • lemuel:

      Nibley is so subtle in his critiques, that you can only find it if you’re looking for it.

      “But how could one expect a simple soldier to question the proposition that compulsory loyalty is the secret of universal peace, when it was being pressed upon him by all the cleverest men of the age? “The barbarians reverence God, because they fear my power,” he had declared, and everyone had applauded his doctrine of compulsory reverence.”

    • boo:

      The beat short thesis is ” When the Lights Went Out’ by ( you guessed it) Nibley. His view was that it was ” perverters’ not spoilers who cause the disappearance of the true church .The offenders were not’ pagans but loudly professing Christians”. The problem is not desertion of the cause but pervasion of it ;” a process by which ” the righteous were removed but none perceives it” Nibley ‘ When the Lights Went Out ” p6. You may draw your own comparisons to the latter days

      • Spektator:

        Another interesting quote from the essay is this:

        The apostolic fathers offered “… to Christian society a last chance to choose between saving its soul by dying in the faith or saving its skin by coming to terms with the world.”

        It seems that the restored church was offered the same choice and made the same decision.

        Spek

  • JR:

    Spek,
    Thank you for the kind word. Wish I could have attended in OH with the distinguished luminaries you mentioned. Yes, I believe “Inquisition” is the correct word for what is currently happening in the church. I personally experienced it recently when I went for TR renewal. Prior to going in I was nervous but determined that I would not dodge questions #7 (Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with). I would state plainly and clearly that I agree with much of what Denver Snuffer has written. A few days before my TR interview however, the Spirit told me quite clearly that I was not to mention DS, but rather I was to confess that “I seek to affiliate with and support someone who disagrees with many of the currently accepted teachings of the church, Jesus Christ.” Let me just say that the reactions of both the bishopric member and the stake president were very interesting when I said those words. I also told both that I do not have a testimony that TSM is a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; nor do I have a testimony of the FP & Q12 as P, S, & Revelators either. Somehow, in spite of those statements, I received my renewed TR. I can only conclude that doing what the Spirit prompts one to do is always the right course!
    Good to read your enlightening and encouraging words dear brother.
    Much love, JR

  • Spektator:

    JR,
    Thanks for stopping by. What saddens me the most is this. The people who are seeking wisdom and knowledge, are the ones who are leaving or are exited from the church. The people who don’t ask questions and are happy being told what to do are the ones who remain, generally. What scenario does that resemble?

    Hope we can make it out to the Great Salt Lake Valley this summer to have our own spiritual feast.

    Spek.

  • sfort:

    Spek,

    Thank you for your feelings on the matter. I visited the Kirtland Temple on a Book of Mormon tour with Bruce Porter and Wayne May. The darkness that exists in the Church is profound. I mused the other day with my wife that the baptism of fire which is the crux of happiness and truth is not taught or celebrated. It seems it is avoided as if it already exists and everyone has it. The Church profoundly miscues the Light of Christ with the Holy Ghost. Joseph never would have taken such actions that is overwhelming the community of Saints today. The Church today has invented a reason and call it apostasy while changing the definition of it. It has appeared that taking away our covenant with Christ can be dismissed because of a further search for truth. The definition of apostasy has changed and taken on a new cloak. Why would not ridiculing our covenant with Christ nor our devotion to Him have cause for destroying the covenant with which we have made? Unbelief. Thank you for helping to remove unbelief so we may all be helped to restore our true belief.

    • Spektator:

      Sfort,

      I believe it is hard to comprehend the level of darkness of which you speak unless one has ‘seen the light.’ Many of those who call themselves Saints have never expended the effort to understand what it means to be a saint – one who has been sanctified. The church seems to teach us that sanctification is found in doing things with our own hands, fulfilling our calling, attending the temple, paying our tithing, etc. You know the list.

      When one toils within the church and measures that effort as ‘the gospel,’ it is hard to comprehend what else could be available. I heartily agree with you that the ‘crux of happiness’ is found in the baptism, “…first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of the Savior…” (Mormon 7:10)

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the real definition of apostasy is very akin to ‘unbelief.’ I am reminded of the scripture in Moroni 10:24-25 as follows:

      24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
      25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.

      If we do not have the power and gifts of God among us, we are in the midst of unbelief/apostasy. If that is the case, NOTHING we do will be of any good or value.

      • sfort:

        The scriptures, then, may be speaking of “good” in different terms than most LDS understand. It is pretty hard to define the term “good” when the belief system of many generally of “good” is of a temporal only nature, “with the hands’ as you say. When Christ asked the question, “Why callest thou me good?” when you observed all that he did, it really strikes hard to the core when all they do is say how good people are in Sacrament mtg., and Preiesthoood mtg. Lots of praises to go around. If we follow Christ’s example in the meridian of time when he wasn’t complete yet, we should not praise man the way we do. Being courteous and complimentary is always meaningful, but to praise man’s works…probably not. Concerning the Holy Ghost and its sanctifying power, if more of this type of event was present, we would be shouting praises to our God night and day. Thanks for your response.

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