“1/8th of an Inch”74
July 11, 2013 by Ron Madson
“1/8th of an Inch”
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” — Matthew 25:40
The heart bulges and begins to beat! Now both the child and the mother’s hearts are rhythmically beating. The child’s arms bud and begin to embrace life. All this and so much more (lungs, ears; liver) form in the sixth week of gestation. This perfection is contained in a 1/8th inch long masterpiece of creation! This is my son, my daughter, my grandchild. What is more precious than life, life, and more life?
My daughter Nicole was walking at eight months. It was a sight to see such a tiny package motoring around. But with each passing month it was becoming increasingly evident that she was not growing much at all, and was well below the low end of the growth developmental charts for her age. When they put a huge needle in her arm to draw blood for testing, I remember thinking –“there is nothing I would not give/spend or do to have her healthy and grow to the full measure of her creation.” The severe anemia was diagnosed, vitamins and medicines prescribed and she thrived. Now as a mother with four children, she has and now faces health challenges with her children. I see in her that same overwhelming angst a parent embraces while waiting, watching and praying for the restoration of their child’s health —-as all time, money and lesser life concerns are, if need be, subordinate to her children’s health.
Being of one common heritage, all humanity shares in the deep heart core sentiments towards our children, as we all wrestle with nature/genetics and the many unpreventable challenges of mortality. But God has blessed us through that same nature with the resources to be able to nurture and alleviate so much suffering —-“for the earth is full, and there is enough to spare; yea I prepared all things, and have given unto men to be agents unto themselves…” (D&C 104:17).
The harsh truth is that billions of parents on our shared planet wake up everyday to the reality that they do not have access to the most basic health care and medicine for their sick children. Even more crushing is the tens of millions that, from lack of food and water, see their children suffer from malnourishment and never, ever fully develop—assuming they even survive childhood. For just a moment, imagine. Imagine your own child weak and listless from lack of food. Imagine their malnutrition and lack of development that will set them back for the rest of their life. Imagine your child or grandchild withered, sick and not able to get the simplest medicine and food to stave off sickness and death? Have you ever seen pictures of starving/withered/hopeless children and imagined how would feel if it were your own child/grandchild?
We observe from a distance the faces of the estimated 170 million malnourished children and 870 million ‘undernourished” people in the world. Some estimate that it would take as little as 30 billion a year to feed the world’s malnourished. So why don’t we? While the how to do so may seem complex, once we dare go to the real heart of the “why” the “how” is only a matter of logistics.
Collectively there are more than enough churches within the United States that a small fraction of their tithes could feed all the real hungry in the world. Our nation is teeming with churches and we pride ourselves as being a religious country. We do not lack religion or churches that spring out of religion. However, religion is not a pre-requisite to having morals. If we can’t determine right from wrong when it comes to allocating resources to those in acute need, then what we lack is empathy, not religion.
One could fairly say that as LDS we give, tithe, sacrifice, offer more than all the other Christian faith in our nation per member! Members of our faith give, sacrifice and serve. We are invited to tithe and collectively tithe several billion a year. That money coupled with a few billion earned through the dozens of for profit entities add up to some real money. And that money is growing into many noticeable assets: 35 billion estimated in temples/church buildings, vast tracts of land, spectacular conference center, hunting preserves, dozens of huge for profit corporations, and even our own special multi-billion dollar shopping mall. Untold wealth!
The “rate of return” is a key component in any business plan. Just ask any Harvard Business School graduate whether they work for a mega-corporation or a Corporate Sole church? Returns are measured in dollars and cents. You invest so much money and get a greater return measured in dollars and cents. Surely good stewardship requires such calculations: From Zion’s “We haven’t forgotten who keeps us in business” CD rates of .8% for five years; rental properties (8-10% rate of return), bookstores; big game hunting fees of $10,000: and hundreds of million from high end stores, etc. They all have a measurable financial return on investment. Everything is given a number. A North American convert can be expected, on average, to contribute $3,000 a year to building the Kingdom. Do the math! Make a plan!
They say that an investor can spend several hundreds of millions in building a casino in Las Vegas and expect a 16% annual return—with it paying for itself in just seven years! They also say that the typical patron will lose 10 to 15% of their total chips to the casino. So the trick is to simply build it and then make it so compelling for them to come that they are willing to donate their 10% to be there. Brilliant business plan!
Continuing revelation knows no boundaries once the ends are allowed to justify the means.
“Isn’t it wonderful!” To have been born and raised as a Mormon in the most prosperous land of all creation! Two loving parents met your every physical and spiritual need. From birth you never missed a meal, never went without shelter, clothing, and the finest medical and dental care in the world right here in the heartland! Soccer, T-ball, sports camps, scouting, dance and piano lessons—every opportunity to fully develop physically, educationally, and even socially. You had your first job at sixteen so now you can pay for the gas for the car your parent’s let you use. At eighteen out go the wisdom teeth, Mr. Mac clothing, mission. BYU subsidized education with grants/school loans. Father’s fellow High Councilmen member gives you your first job—health insurance and gym membership included! Blessed with abundance. Make sure you find the right tools to protect your assets that you earned—Investments/IRAs/Ayn Rand.
I wonder where the term “self reliance” can be found in the scriptures? I hear the adjective “self” used as in “self” help books or when someone is called a “self” made man. There was a righteous King who labored with his own hands and I suppose if anyone could call himself a “self” made man it would be King Benjamin. But after conversing with an angel he began telling everyone that we are all beggars and less than the dust of the earth and dependent on God for all things, and here is the real kicker—he told us that we should not judge anyone who is in need but help them. So we plow deeper into the Book of Mormon and finally find a “self” made man who knows the source of his prosperity: “..but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength.” You would not find Korihor and the believers in his philosophy giving a man a “fish” or “loaf” of bread because if you give them something for nothing, then that person (not based on any statistical objective study but a belief) would never, ever learn to fish or bake bread. We just know this.
“Poverty is anomaly to the rich. They can not understand why the poor when hungry do not simply ring the bell.” —Walter Bagehot
We have so many LDS members, especially in third world countries, who are in poverty. The Lord told us that we there are no poor in Zion. So the master teacher inquires: “What can we do to eliminate poverty?” I quickly raise my hand: “I know, I know—we can invite them to send one-tenth of all their income to Salt Lake City and with that money we can send back church buildings and donation slips along with training videos as to how the Lord wants them to become “self” reliant.” Charity floweth up and judgment rolleth down.
I firmly believe that if we live the full law of tithing that the “windows of heaven” will pour out a blessing on any faith community that lives that full law. It is the law given by Jehovah to set His people free! The Law requires that from those that have an “increase” that they tithe it to the Lord. Then the Lord in the full law of tithing tells us how the tithes and offerings were to be administered: for feasting (feeding) those without “inheritance, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates…” Tithes were stored in the local community storehouse where every third year all was consecrated to the widow and orphans. If all tithes, as commanded, were taken to the Lord’s storehouse, then the “windows of heaven” would open and pour out a great blessing of abundance upon His people. This law merges into the liberation of those without inheritance (asset-less) leading ultimately to the Jubilee where all poverty is eliminated in the faith communities. This is the outpouring of the blessings to a community where there is more than enough to spare. No debt bondage, no one without basic needs. True liberation and fullness of the law of tithing occurs when we keep not only the giving of tithes, but abide by the full law as to how and what to do with the tithes once received. Even the Levites, who were required by law to have no assets/inheritance are provided for—they receive their portion among the poor.
Despite having the law of Moses outlining exactly how the tithes and offerings were to be spent, far too often the priesthood entrusted with these tithes and offerings used it to amass lands, construct luxurious buildings and not deliver the tithes to the “storehouse” of the Lord. So the prophets were repeatedly sent: “Will a man rob God?” Who is robbing God and how? The entire text of Malachi’s message tells us: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you….ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord….those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right….wherein have we robbed thee?…ye have gone away from mine ordinances …in tithes and offerings….for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation…therefore, “Bring ye all the tithes into my storehouse, that there might be meat in my house.” (summary of Malachi chapters 2 and 3).
“Within the gates” of the temple tarried the poor, the widow, the hireling, the sick, lame and very least seeking relief. There they sought alms and offerings. It is when the Priesthood sought to cast them out of the synagogues and/or sought to charge them to enter His House was the only time the Lord lost his cool.
Unrelentingly, the Old Testament prophets inform us that God was most displeased as to the grinding of the face of the poor and His wrath was primarily focused on those entrusted to take care of the very least in Israel: “Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow (Deuteronomy 27:19); “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” (Proverbs 22:16); “to turn aside the needy from judgment and take away the right from the poor of my people (Isaiah 10:2; Ezekiel tell us of the real sin of Sodom: “Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughter, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49); for this, the Lord enters into judgment against the Elders and leaders of his people whom He accuses of having “ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.” (Isaiah 3:14).
“This very hour there are many members of the church who are suffering. They are hungry, stretched financially, and struggling with all manner of physical, emotional, and spiritual distress. They pray with all the energy of their souls for succor, for relief.”—President Uchtdorf Priesthood Session 2011.
And then after emphasizing the needs, President Uchtdorf taught us that we must not wait for Salt Lake to solve these massive problems, but that we must take it upon ourselves to find solutions.
No truer words have been spoken. We cannot look to Salt Lake to address the suffering of the hungry, the stretched financially. The church has limited resources and has a massive construction and maintaining of buildings to support. Therefore, we cannot look to the Church of Christ administrators who hold the keys to the treasury to address the suffering of the hungry. We must on a local level learn “self” reliance and find our own solutions.
Have you ever wondered about the “fish and loaves” miracle? How could you take a handful of fish and loafs of bread and feed thousands? So Jesus’ disciples are concerned that if they simply give away all that they have to a few that the rest will also want and they will not be able to feed all of them? And yet Jesus tells them to simply give away all that they have. They are invited to have faith that that baskets would refill and refill. So they give it away and they refill over and over again in a chain reaction. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps the multitude seeing the unchecked, uncalculating charity of the Lord that they were moved to compassion and mimicked his behavior casting in all they also had?
So what if a church or any faith community did the same? I believe that if we saw a church/faith practice such unbridled compassion/faith that we would be moved to throw in our lot wholeheartedly and refill over and over again the baskets that were being used for direct human relief? Faith begets faith.
The Lord was trying to teach his disciples that faith precedes the miracle. That if we impart ALL that we have the baskets will spectacularly refill! And what if we try to save, control, invest, and rely on a market return? Have we considered that we may get our reward from the market but find those among us that desire to give to the least will find other baskets to fill—- where there is no withholding?
I read of a small Christian faith community in California that had been saving up for years to construct their first church house. They needed $750,000 and had reached $500,000. Seeing the needs around them they voted to take all the money they had and donate it to local charities. And so they did—every single penny. They found that they could worship the Lord without a building….and their baskets refilled in abundance.
“And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Malachi 3: 17,18)
At a recent historic missionary meeting we learned that we are now going to have our missionaries give tours of church buildings. It follows. Like a ‘Parade of Homes” on steroids, we just have to share that in which we have placed most of our treasure. But unlike some of the “Noveau Riche” we didn’t just go big, we spared no expense on quality for our real jewels—the Temples for the Lord. Temples are crafted with the finest materials the world has to offer: “granite from China, wood from Africa, and limestone from France” —all the best for the Lord’s house. No mere mangers for Him and surely not for us who want to follow Him. “Building a temple utilizes the highest quality in every material, and every fashioning of that material has to be the absolute best” –Doug Welling, President of Jacobsen Construction.
A year ago in General Conference we learned just how significant even an 1/8th of an inch is to the Lord. As part of a pre-open house temple inspection, Elder Whiting of the Seventy explains upon observing that a window in the temple was very slightly askew:
“I looked at the square, and to my eyes it looked evenly placed. However, upon closer inspection with a measuring device in hand, I could see there was a flaw and that this little square was indeed one-eighth of an inch (3 mm) crooked. Direction was then given to the contractor that this window would need to be replaced because it was not temple standard….
I admit that I was surprised that an entire window would need to be replaced because of such a small, barely noticeable defect. Surely, it was unlikely that anyone would ever know or even notice this window given its remote location in the temple….
But there should be no doubt as to whose house it really is. By requiring exacting standards of construction down to the smallest of details, we not only show our love and respect for the Lord Jesus Christ but we also hold out to all observers that we honor and worship Him whose house it is.”
I wonder if anyone has ever given a conference address on the “third” of the Ten Commandments?
An eighth of an inch! How do we measure perfection! The difference between a child reaching the full measure of his/her creation or a life of impairment is measured in fractions of an inch. How so? A child that does not receive proper nourishment will have a brain that is smaller than a properly fed child—even an eighth of an inch smaller brain can mean never reaching one’s best ability to learn, cope, function, work and socialize. An “eight of an inch” less developed vital organ—heart, liver, lungs, etc. could make all the difference for a child throughout his/her life. Or maybe just adequate is enough for some temples.
I hear many say that the Lord wants the very finest for His temples and we spare no time or expense to make sure His temples reach perfection, and that may be true. But I wonder if when they/we heard Him say “temples” they thought he was referring to lifeless building of steel and stone, when in fact He was referring to each individual temple that houses the spirits of His children? Anxiety about an “eighth of an inch” would make far more sense, would it not, if He were referring to the perfection of our children and grandchildren?
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” —I Corinthians 3:16
Like the ever so slightly off center window Elder Whiting described as being in a “remote location in the temple” we have LDS children, who live in remote locations who are suffering from malnutrition. Their malnutrition, at first glance, is hid behind their gleaming smiles. On closer inspection their body weight and stature is far behind children in developed countries of the same age. Then on further examination (cat scan) we find that their vital organs are measurably smaller (in severe cases a malnourished child’s brain is half the size of a normal brain by age 3). It is estimated that there are currently 90,000 LDS children that suffer from varying degrees of malnutrition—some of which are severe cases, of which an estimated 900 die each year (http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/01/27/approaching-zion-solving-the-problem-of-malnutrition/). If you find it hard to believe the facts I just stated are real, then maybe that is just the nature of the word “remote.” Remote is relative to where you/I/we are both geographically and spiritually. They are not remote to their parents and the Father of us all.
So why would we not expend whatever it takes to make sure there is not one single LDS child suffering from malnutrition or lack any basic medical attention? Is there a fear that if they are fed that they will just want more food? And so what? Or perhaps others, not LDS, would come and also be want to be fed? Is there a fear that there is not enough “fishes and loaves” to feed the multitude? Do we lack the faith that if we share liberally that the baskets will not refill? Therefore, in an act of faithlessness do we instead invest in the marketplace of Mammon?
Speaking of the marketplace, one Mormon apologist had this to say in response to questions over our church spending multi-billions on a downtown shopping mall (the most expensive per square foot in the history of mankind) next to temple square rather then providing direct relief to the poor among us: “Critics also overlook the fact that if money is spent to feed the needy, that money is gone.” Why would we want to invest in temples of flesh that rot and decay when we can invest in temples of granite that last forever and give greater returns?
“Thought experiment: What if you had a raging fire moving towards two separate locations that will surely burn if you do not stop it, but you only had the resources, water, and personnel to arrest the fire as to one of the two location—but not both. One location has a vacant Holy Dedicated Temple and the other location had one single trapped child. Where do you send your resources?”
“Now what if the choice is between all the temples and assets of our church or one single, homeless man?
It costs only $50 a year to provide a daily food supplement for one malnourished child for an entire year. To provide this supplement to the estimated 90,000 LDS children suffering from malnutrition would cost $4.5 million dollars a year.
Launched in 2011, the “I am a Mormon Campaign” penetrated 21 markets—including England. And what a spectacular success! Viewed by hundreds of millions worldwide we have vastly increased our image—and all at the estimated cost of only $4.6 million dollars!
“My name is Eva Garcia. I am five years old. I am hungry. I try to keep my head up while at church even though I am very weak. My parents love me and worry about me and my little brother. I always share my food with my brother. We pray every night for help. I often see mother crying at night while my father is gone looking for work….. and I am a Mormon.”
“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing….
For behold, ye do love amoney, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God?…
Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?”
Mormon from the dust….
Let me begin by aligning my affliction with yours and your family. My daughter has struggled with JRA since she was three. It crushes me emotionally to carry her upstairs when she is to weak to do so herself. Inside I cry to God, “why?”
As I continued to read your piece I thought of Satan’s promise; “then with that enmity I will buy up armies and navies, false priests who oppress and tyrants who reign with blood and horror on this earth!” Oh how wholly has he kept that promise.
And one more thought as I read Mormon’s words. Capitalism is the greatest farce ever foisted on a people. It has been terribly implemented.
Thank you Ron for the much needed reminder.
Also, I pray often for my daughters 1/8 inch.
I should have put my thoughts together and written something coherently. But I was reminded of another quote as I was reading your piece; “We are powerless in proving–no dogmatism can refute that; we carry within us the idea of truth–no skepticism can refute that. We yearn for truth and find only uncertainty. We seek happiness and find only misery…But our misery is the result of our greatness, and our greatness the result of our misery…For man knows that he is wretched. He is wretched because he knows it; but he is great because he knows he is wretched. What a Chimera is this which we call man! Miracle, confusion, contradiction! Judge over all things and impotent earthworm, treasure-chamber of truth and dark room of uncertainty, glory and shame of the universe: let him praise himself, I will humiliate him, let him humiliate himself, I will praise him; and so persistently will I contradict him that he shall at last comprehend that he is incomprehensible.
Egon Friedell quoting Pascal in A Cultural History of the Modern Age Volume 11. Pg 68.”
Eric, I am so sorry to hear that your daughter struggles with JRA. I do agree that “capitalism” is not the Lord’s way.
I’m so sorry to hear about your Daughter. My daughter was diagnosed at age 5. We went the typical medical route with the promise of debilitating drugs, deformity, and possibly death before adulthood. Each month they re-checked her, refilled her prescriptions and said she wasn’t bad enough for methotrexate yet, but she would be soon. That was what was offered.
So we went the alternative route. It took less than 6 months to see her completely cured. She is now 18, starting her freshman year of college this fall, and without any trace of joint problems since age 6.
Three things to look into:
1. Fluoride use. This was not the primary cause, but contributed to the problem. Our pediatrician at the time had us giving her a daily fluoride supplement. Very, very stupid thing to do. But we were ignorantly obedient to an equally ignorant doctor’s orders.
2. Mycoplasma infection. There’s evidence that JRA is due to mycoplasma infection and is treatable. In our daughter’s case, she was on several months of very low dose antibiotics. This took care of 90% of the problem. (Her rheumatologist thought we were foolish to pursue this course of treatment and warned us of dire consequences if we did. The only consequence was loss of lifetime revenue to this rheumatologist.)
3. Emotional baggage. Turns out our daughter had been carrying an unresolved emotional issue since age 8 months that had made her more susceptible to the infection. A practitioner trained to find and correct this sort of thing took care of it in less than 5 minutes. This solved the remaining 10% of her symptoms and she’s been perfectly fine ever since.
I cringe to hear of your daughter’s suffering, and hope there’s something here that can help you help her.
As you might imagine, this course of events changed my life, my career, and my spiritual goals. In the end, I’m incredibly thankful to have gone through it.
Adrian, would you mind sharing the type of practitioner or modality you mentioned for #3? If you’re able to share the name, I would love to learn more. My son has some issues, and I’m looking for someone to help that has experience with children. I can leave my email if you wouldn’t mind.
I have learned that trying to teach someone with the perspective of Babylon is almost impossible–
We learned when we adopted a child who had dealt with heavy malnutrition (in a ‘third world country’) that most of our fellow Americans, including and almost especially LDS, didn’t want to hear about it, know about it–at all. Even if knowing about it would make it easier for the ward to meet his/her needs–
they didn’t want to know. What they wanted to do was ‘blame’ us for the condition. They took their angst out on us. They put a magnifying glass over our parenting and over the behavior of this child.
Happily, we have found ways for this child to grow, talents this child has that can be developed outside the church paradigm–amazing and wonderful talents. But we still spend a lot of time girding on our armor (even our special child) before we enter the church building or have anything to do with a majority of the members of our ward.
These people (American LDS) do not want to be reminded that there are children who are hungry in the world. Admittedly, when we adopted our malnourished child he/she was not a member of the church, yet. Trying to understand the church and its culture takes quite a bit of time and energy for our special child–
I wish I knew what to say. Our hearts were changing before we brought this very precious young person into our hearts and home–
We were beginning to see things differently, but we have had very little impact on the LDS around us. They are caught where they are; they simply can’t see.
It’s a comfort, however, to come on blogs such as this and realize that more LDS are waking up. We’ve been trying to work in our own community (feeding the hungry)–
but it does break my heart that LDS children are suffering, along with all the Catholic, Hindu, Bhuddist and Muslim children–around the world (and those who have no religion at all; the religious label matters very little, really)–
It’s a terrible test for us mortals, and some of us have limited means–
But, thank you for the reminder.
I’ve heard of a group called Liahona that reaches out to hungry little Mormons. I’d like to know more about it–
in the middle of everything else–
LDS per, I am moved and humbled by your challenges and grace in what you have taken on. In fact I feel very small and shallow compared to your challenges. I agree that ultimately we need to cultivate compassion for all children or for that matter all humanity. thank you for sharing.
Oh, you are NOT shallow, and we are not great, at all. It was hard. We got cold feet right at the end–
There were a few days when we had almost decided not to do it, before we made the committment, because we knew the great change it would make in our lives. We didn’t even realize, then, that we would have so many challenges with our fellow LDS–we were just SCARED! I admit that seeing the picture of our large-headed child with hollow cheeks might have just helped us make that final decision.
This child has been a tremendous blessing to our family; we have gotten far more than we have given–
and, as I said, we grew cowardly at the last–
I don’t know what happened; we took turns (husband and I) almost deciding not to go through with it–
and then suddenly we did it! We are so very glad now, but frankly we are very concerned about the future of this child in the church. Thank you for letting me say that.
Thank you for letting me share–
(*mutual gratitude moment* LOL!)
The Book of Mormon (BoM) foretells all of the “follies and abominations” (D&C 124:47-48) that curses the church still today. The BoM is a direct warning to the “saints” today, who do qualify as “Gentiles”. The ignoring of the poor was only one of the signs given as a warning for the “saints” in these latter-days.
We see many BoM warnings for us as members of the Lord’s House, which include the worship of Kings/Presidents (“without a country” per Daniel the Prophet) who ignore the poor, while preaching behind their Rameupton pulpits like the Zoramites.
Joseph Smith was called by God to become an apostle “only” (2 Ne 3) and never to proclaim himself as a King/Prophet/President. This was one of his most grave errors, including his doing “his own will and carnal desires” that caused him to fall (with a belated repentance like King David).
The wicked King Noah/President/Prophet also built many “great and spacious buildings and temple”(s).as a “type and shadow of things to come” for this day as a warning directly meant for LDS Inc and its Kingdom of blindly-obedient serfs. King Noah and his High Priests, applicable for today, interpreted the dreams of the people and did not allow personal revelation. “When the Prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done” and “follow the prophet, he will NEVER lead you astray” both apply, especially when understood in God’s direct warnings to us about His “prophets who will lead His people astray”!.
The BoM and the D&C clearly teaches us about the spiritually-“cursed” LDS Church’s present-day “follies and abominations” if read without the interpretation given by false leaders (D&C 64:38-40). In addition to reading the scriptures knowing that they are a direct warning for the LDS in a correct interpretation of the scriptures, we also have to search for historical early church history truth.
For instance, the politically-added D&C 132 section. This fabricated section was inserted to justify “abominable” polygamy,while removing section 101, which honored the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman as Christ clearly taught.
Any teaching that violates Christ’s teachings (“never swear an oath…as it comes of evil…and will curse you”, “no marriage in heaven as we are like children or angels” and not “Gods/Goddesses”, which flattery instills pride, but contradicts Christ’s teaching about the existence of ONLY ONE God and His identity (“know ye not that when ye see me, ye have seen the Father”, Alma 11:23-40 “only ONE God, Jesus Christ, yea the Eternal Father, and Mosiah 15:1-5, “For God Himself shall come down as a man and will be called the Son”, ~ while His Spirit remains in Heaven as God, the Creator of All That Is! The original BoM restores this clear knowledge of the identity of God on this earth as Jesus Christ.
Jacob 2 & 3 also clearly teaches how God has always viewed polygamy as “abominable” even when practiced by wicked Jerusalem “men of old”, despite the political justification for “whoremongering” by “prophets and apostles”. Interestingly, Joseph Smith repented prior to his Masonic murder from polygamy and Masonry as documented by award-winning LDS historian D. Michael Quinn (Origins 144-148, 645-6). . Therefore, we have “much restoration” (2 Nephi 3:24) needed to cleanse the Lord’s House, including our worship of Mammon “great and spacious buildings” versus assisting the poor to feed themselves as the true temples of God!,
Word!^^^^^. This is a faithful, believing diatribe! You have to believe and have faith in our sacred texts to say such things. The problem I see with some apologist and those that want our allegiance to “church” over “kingdom of God” is that want us to believe in our sacred texts only enough to have allegiance to the “church” but IF we believe it all then the indictment of the church is far greater than what some non-believing anti-mormon could muster. —ironically. For what is happening to us is fulfillment of the prophetic voice of our texts–particularly Isaiah.
You asked how it would feel if it were my ‘own’ child. Well, all our children are adopted, and our malnourished former orphan isn’t our only special needs child–
but our other children had not experienced hunger–
not physical hunger, anyway–
and it is heartbreaking. Malnutrition never goes away. You can feed a child, but you have to do it carefully; you can’t push a child to eat more than he/she wants, and you need to teach correct attitudes about food, and it’s very emotion-consuming.
But the effects of malnutrition don’t go away–
Rickets remain; crippling effects remain. Small stature remains–
In a church were ‘normal’ and ‘excellent’ mean everything, it’s very hard when leaders/teachers/fellow members approach a ‘child’ who looks 10 or 11 but who is nearing majority and who lost years because of no stimulation and says, “so are YOU going to go to BYU?”
Why can’t they see that the fact that this ‘child’ is thriving in other ways, has actually maybe achieved 6th grade–
and has gifts that are being developed and has learned to laugh–
Nope; they can’t see. They just think, “almost 18; BYU!”
*shaking my head*
Sometimes it is very hard not to want to shake these people–
but I now understand the scriptures that Nephi uses to talk about the blindness of the Jews; Jesus talked about that, too; “hearing they hear not; seeing they see not”–
They were stiff-necked; they had a special kind of stiff-neckedness; they loved their prosperity, their intelligence, their civilization; they loved the world, and they thought they were the Lord’s chosen people–
and they missed by a mile–
Sorry to say so much; once I started, I couldn’t stop–
But I know what it is like; this is not my bio child, but it took a LONG time to teach healthy eating habits and put a little bit of healthy growth on this child; it was arduous, and there were many pitfalls along the way–
and . . . I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world; I mean that, quite literally.
Wow. thanks for sharing
I also want to make the point that those ‘saints’ who have been accepting and large-hearted come across to us as almost angelic. There are some of them, and we feel deep gratitude to them–
They usually aren’t in leadership positions, though! LOL!
I was troubled by that talk about the window being ‘off’–
I was very troubled by it.
I remember that talk also, and it really didn’t sit well with me. Oh well, I don’t listen to much conference anymore anyway. I would rather be spending time with my wife and children, or out serving others. You know, like Jesus would do…
Maybe I would listen more often if talks like the following were still given:
Interesting that Brother Christensen was given emeritus status soon after giving this talk, because of turning 70 (when quorum of the seventy members are released). I wonder if he felt he had something important to say in his last talk as a general authority. Great talk. I especially like the C.S. Lewis quote near the end of his talk.
As you consider your judgements, and before you make your pronouncements, perhaps you should consider the parable of the talents. Is City Creek a 1, 2, or 5 talent project? What do you think might be done if another 2 or 5 talents returns to the servant? If you think that it’s a 1 talent effort, then the judgement will come from the one who provided the talents, not the fellow servants who should be managing what they have been given.
I’m not the person who wrote this blog article/essay, so I probably shouldn’t respond to you, but when I read what you said, I thought, “yes, if a person is ‘comfortable’ and has enough to eat, then the investments that the church leaders make really don’t matter or mean anything”–
but the fact is that if a person is hungry . . . or going without necessary things–
and is LDS and somehow finds out about the ‘mall’ (I could care less about the mall, but the fact is that there is a fine line where sanity and insanity kind of get fuzzy)–
how does he/she reconcile it?
A person would have to say, “it’s more important for that mall to make money than for me to eat.”
How many people can do that? I’m not saying that a hungry child who is LDS who is in Africa or South America or Asia–
would be able to make those cognitive connections–
but the ‘feeling’ of “I am not important enough to feed”–
would become stronger and stronger as that child became more aware that there was a wealthy (to them, even someone like my family who is no wealthy would appear to be very wealthy to a hungry LDS child)–
group of people somewhere in the world . . .
make money, rather than feeding people–
that disconnect cane become literally “crazy-making”–
as long as a person has enough to eat or can read–or has a place to sleep that is safe–
it’s fine to theorize about investments, but once that line is crossed–
what does a person do?
Probably most hungry LDS children don’t even realize there are people in America who are LDS who have enough to eat–
perhaps that is humane, in a way, but what a sad commentary on the disparities–
I think of Lazarus and the rich man–
that story/parable that Jesus gave–
the hungry, hungry man is named; the rich man is not–
there will be a time for accounting, quite literally, and then *we* shall all see what talents matter and what talents do not.
I count myself as responsible, too–
if I don’t feed the hungry around me; it doesn’t matter that my family has a member who was once starving; what matters is what I do consistently to feed the poor–
I, too, will be held accountable, no matter what the ‘brethren’ in SLC do–
Very wisely put LDSDPer.
I think it is important that you mentioned the parable of the talents or “bags of gold” is the another translation. Matthew 25 is to be read in toto and historical context. There are two types of characters. One is the demanding owner of capital/gold/wealth in Israel that is very demanding of his “hirelings” and that they must give him a return on “his” money. The people Jesus were speaking to understood the brutality of their economic system. Those that had got more and more and those with nothing were constantly stripped. Jehovah had instituted a non-usury, no interest law to prevent accumulation of wealth in hands of few and also instituted the jubilee–the return of land to all people so that you did not have situation of the very poor always struggling. The one man who gave no return was actually the hero in the story if understood correctly. He refused to play ball with the economic game. The owner of the talents was the “goat.” We have been reading this ass backwards for so very long out of context that we actually believe the owner of the talents is the good guy. But read on because after this parable the Lord then says the the LORD now appears and HE judges righteously in opposition to the owner of the talents. The owner of the talents strips all money from the least/the tenant farmer/the hireling but the Lord judges the goats form the sheep. Here is the how the Lord judges—the very opposite:
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[d] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Thanks, Ron, for making this connection. Why couldn’t we see it when it was right in front of our noses? And how about the impossibility of sharing of oil among the ten virgins? Are we missing something there two? Now I’ll have to re-read that parable, too.
The scriptures have said that the weak, simple, and foolish will thrash the nations and confound the wise. Perhaps the wise, self-sufficient virgins who were unable (or just unwilling?) to share with their unprepared foolish sisters had been hoarding oil without compassion on “the least of these,” lacking the faith that kept the widow of Zarephath’s cruse full of oil throughout the famine while sharing it with Elijah the Tishbite, similar to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, perhaps even another “stone soup” type miracle, if only we knew the whole story.
Isaiah 29:14 … for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
D&C 76:9 … before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.
1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. [King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)]
Jesus must have appreciated this verse of Isaiah as much as both Paul and Brother Joseph did later, and as well as any other radical who has come up against the self satisfied establishment of received wisdom.
So it shouldn’t seem too far out that near the end of his ministry Jesus set up his listeners with examples of the received wisdom of Prudence (i.e. the five wise virgins and the two prudent investors) only to reveal the surprise ending in which the wisdom of the wise perishes and the understanding of the prudent comes to naught.
Or do we just take this chapter of Matthew as somewhat disjointed advice about getting ready for the second coming?
City Creek, and all it represents, is Babylon. It is an abomination in the Lord’s eyes. And yes, judgement will come from Him.
sorry about the typos–
PRINTING MANUALS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FEEDING THE POOR:
On July 14th, 2013, in Priesthood we had the Lorenzo Snow Lesson on Tithing. The teacher started listing and discussing all of the things that the Church did with tithing. It started going on about all of the wonderful “Humanitarian Efforts” that the Church uses tithing for. He was starting to list all sorts of Humanitarian things that he said were being paid for by tithing so I raised my hand and said, “Actually no tithing is used for Church Welfare or Humanitarian efforts. All of the funds spent on Welfare and Humanitarian projects come from fast offerings or specific humanitarian donations. No tithing is used on any of thee programs.” The teacher started to say, “I’m pretty sure that I read or heard somewhere that tithing is spent on Church Humanitarian projects.” So I said, “No, I’m sorry, that is just not correct. No tithing goes to any relief or humanitarian efforts.” SO THEN the ward Sunday School Teacher jumps in immediately and in a VERY forceful tone says, “The Church Humanitarian efforts are COMPLETELY UNIMPORTANT anyway. The Church is not on the Earth to feed and help people, it is here to SAVE SOULS. When we pay tithing that money is used to PRINT MANUALS and BUILD BUILDINGS and those things help in the Church purpose to SAVE SOULS. Using tithing to print those manuals and build those buildings saves souls and that does far more eternal good and is a far more important use of our money than feeding the poor people and contributing to humanitarian efforts.” I should have responded but I was totally blown away by his total jacassary.
I have a lot of ‘issues’ with Brigham Young, but he did say one thing–
something to the effect of: a person who is hungry cannot be taught the gospel–
I am afraid I have heard similar comments from LDS–
(about manuals being more important; frankly, I think we have too many manuals; we always have stacks of them at our house)
I’m afraid that the Sunday School teacher in question doesn’t really understand what it means to save SOULS. The soul consists of both body and spirit. The Lord prayed “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Presumably in Heaven people’s physical wants are provided for. We are being tested to see if we will seek first to build up His kingdom on earth and to establish His righteousness. His righteousness includes providing for the physical needs of the soul. Why do we think we can be prepared for citizenship in Heaven if we cannot abide its first principles, including the baptismal covenant of bearing one another’s burdens, etc. Our exemplar Jesus attended to physical needs with compassion. All things are spiritual to him, including feeding and healing.
I’m afraid that the teacher’s misunderstanding is perpetuated by the shallow PMG approach to the subject of Salvation. When the historic worldwide missionary meeting on “The Work of Salvation” was announced, I thought that perhaps they were going to address this issue.
A few years ago when our stake was reorganized the visiting authority’s parting words in the Sunday session of stake conference were a challenge to the new presidency and the rest of the members of the stake to make our stake into a true stake of Zion. To illustrate what he meant by a true stake of Zion he told an experience that Elder Russell M Nelson had during a visit to some stake in West Africa. During one of the meetings he noticed that the children in the primary choir that sang for the visitors had no shoes. When reviewing the financial records of the stake, he also noticed that none of the fast offerings were used locally; they had been entirely remitted to SLC. When asked about it, the humble stake president explained that in their stake each ward had a potluck dinner every day so that every member of the stake could count on at least one nutritious meal daily. Because of this simple practice they could send their fast offerings to church headquarters in order to help the less fortunate.
So a couple of years later when President Uchtdorf said that there wasn’t a one-shoe-fits-all solution for every stake, I understood what he meant. The solution of that West African stake would not work here because no amount of free food would stave off all the foreclosures. We gentiles have fallen into the capitalist pit that we have dug for the scattered remnants of Jacob. (To see this more clearly read John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” and Jared Diamonds’ “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” along with some of their more recent books.)
When I was bishop of a very diverse ward, a widow living on seven hundred dollars of monthly disability social security routinely gave one hundred dollars per month fast offering in addition to her seventy dollars tithing, except when there was an emergency of some kind among her grand children that made that impossible. When I asked her about it her response was the same as the West African stake president’s; she enjoyed being able to help the less fortunate.
While I was bishop this widow and a few other core committed members gave generous fast offerings, and many members and non-members were helped. But I was surprised at some of the requests for fast offering assistance. A few times per year I would get requests for fast offering assistance from middle aged couples with combined incomes in the hundred thousand dollars per year range. Most of these had not paid any tithing or fast offerings in recent history. One of these was a woman living by herself who was trying to make payments on a brand new car, among other things. When I suggested selling the car and driving an older model, she said that she could not bear the thought of having a car that might break down and leave her stranded on the freeway. (The parents of a starving child might wonder why she would prefer a new untested car over a tried and true used one plus a triple A membership.) She explained that if we could pay enough of her bills with fast offerings, then she could start to pay tithing and get a temple recommend in order to attend a wedding of a niece or nephew.
Because of these experiences I understand why the brethren talk so much about self-reliance. But I’m afraid that the wealthy who are living beyond their means (and way, way, way beyond the means of the average member) are not the ones that take self-reliance to heart, at least not for themselves. The wealthy who barely live within their means are very proud of it, and are fond of wondering aloud why everybody else cannot be self-sufficient like they are … never mind that no man is an island, and that all of their wealth was created by others.
The poor members of the church take self-reliance seriously. We (my wife, two teenaged daughters, and I) spent half of last year in South America in humble wards and branches of the church. We saw the poverty that the members struggle under. I cannot tell you how powerless we felt, since our pitiful financial contributions were only a drop in the bucket compared to the great need. The four of us lived in a fairly primitive 300 square foot cabin for three months, but compared with most of the member dwellings it was a mansion. We had hot running water. During each season of harvest, whether peach, grape, tomato, potato, walnut, etc. the members, the poorest of the poor, living in dirt floor huts without indoor plumbing, brought us gleanings from the fields that they were allowed to glean. From these gleanings they bottled food to last the rest of the year. Our branch president, a physically worn out and weathered man in his late fifties, walked six kilometers to church with his wife and youngest son. He lived in a dirt floor hut on the property of the land owner that he worked for.
The local seminary teacher told us of a visit from an area authority (a big city lawyer from the same country) who thought that seminary attendance was inadequate. When she explained that these rural kids had to travel long distances to get to seminary, he replied, “That doesn’t keep them from attending the public schools.” She told me that she didn’t have the presence of mind to explain to him that the state sent school buses for the public school students, but there was nothing similar available for the seminary students. She ended by saying, “I guess we just need to be more auto-sufficientes.”
Without any ecclesiastical authority my wife and I explained to some of the branch leaders that most of the church programs have origins in Utah where an entire ward might take up just a few city blocks. In their eagerness to please the general authorities, the area authorities, themselves men of means, don’t want to make excuses about the difficulties of adapting those programs to rural third world settings.
The official handbooks of the church for bishops, branch presidents, and other church leaders are unequivocal about the obligation of local leaders to seek out the poor and provide for their needs. All local leaders are to report to the branch president or bishop the needs that they find. The branch president or bishop is the one who writes the check or draws on the account or asks another member in his unit with more means to assist the needy. President Monson is not the one who writes the check. He expects the bishops and branch presidents to do it. He has the handbooks memorized, and expects other leaders to take them seriously, too. Wherever he goes he receives glowing reports and sees glowing happy faces, and must assume that the instructions are being taken seriously.
Are the branch presidents too timid to provide the assistance? Have area leaders warned them too sternly about providing assistance beyond the level of local contributions?
If I were a branch president in an area with starving children, I would draw on the general fast offerings funds until some higher authority questioned me about it. Then I would remind him of our sacred God-given obligation to the poor as outlined in the handbooks, and continue the same policy until he took the check book or charge card from me. Then I would keep doing all in my power until every last shred of my priesthood authority was used up. I would start disfellowshipping wealthy members in my unit who refused to use their wealth to succor the starving children, etc. Perhaps other branch presidents would take courage and do the same thing. Perhaps the word would get back to President Monson, and he would back us up. Or perhaps we would get released. When the branch presidents get the vision of their calling (if only to the degree it is spelled out in their handbook), and take seriously their charge from the Lord to succor the poor of his people, then and only then will we begin to have true zion districts and stakes.
@Forest Simmons, I really enjoyed reading what you had to say–
I’m glad someone else who is LDS has read about John Perkins. Without that perspective it is hard for LDS to understand what is really going on in ‘third world’ countries and why–
but I appreciate all you have to say–
Forest, your contributions to the dialogue at the Mormon Worker are always so informative and insightful. I agree that if I had to do it over again (Bishop) I would have broke the bank more often. The word “self” reliance is used in different ways. I get that we need to find ways to be productive/self-sufficient to be in a position to help others, but the issue for me is how the word is used ecclesiastically in reference to third world needs among LDS. I became aware that our church has placed a two week per year restriction on food/assistance that can be given to those in third world countries. And that leaders there are often restricted on the amounts they can disburse. The thinking is that if we allow, for example, a stake in a poor part of Peru to disburse funds as we do in North America that the demands would be endless. And? But I personally believe that there is a systemic way to alleviate such needs and that would be to return to the law of tithes and offerings set forth in the OT. If we are going to import that law then let’s graft ALL of it–and in this case how it is to be spent. THe spending commands of the Lord in the OT is that it be used locally and then if the local unit has excess they can export their excess. I am convinced as illustrated by the example that you gave that if the saints in poverty areas retained their tithes and offerings and not sent it all to SLC that the windows of heaven would open and their would be “meat in the Lord’s storehouse.” But one might say “well what about buildings?” Well so what? If we want to build them a building we can and should or they can or NOT. Worship does not require such a massive building project. Look at Russia how we entered with JWs and Seventh Day Adventist and other christian faiths and we are focused on buildings/structure and they worship in homes and have grown much faster then we have. Is that the only reason why? There are other reasons of course but we should reconsider where we place our emphasis and in particular money. A “fish and loaves’ model does not involve amassing tens of billions in assets. But the “church” is the Forest of our faith. That is where the fruits are born.
In short, we should be more believing by embracing the voices and warnings of the BOM and the D&C that tells us that whatever we are doing we have it fundamentally wrong when we are “not equal in all things” and we have a hoarding system rather than a fish and loaves system.
there has to be another and better way. But for now we send the “self reliance” message to the very least among us while supporting a vast welfare program among the wealthy (BYU, jobs program in SLC/mall, etc etc.). I think the prophetic voice of the BOM has nailed us
@Forest Simmons, I served in the Philippines, Manila mission in the early nineties, and am still heavily engaged in serving within the country. I really appreciate your insight and eloquence. Thank you for sharing the truth.
I thank you for your kind words. Those who understand these things feel powerless from isolation and from fear of precipitating contention by venturing ever so tentatively to broach the subject or hint at truths that most people do not want to even consider, i.e. to even furtively glance at the elephant in the room.
It is, therefore, quite heartening to hear comments like yours.
I really appreciate this post. Thank you for taking the time to share. Sums up many feelings I’ve had of late, especially regarding tithing.
thanks for visiting.
Dear all readers and commenters. I am truly sorry for us. The United States is militarily the strongest nation on earth at this time. We have great amounts of wealth and riches. The brain power is overwhelmingly at the top of the charts. We have immense blessings from God. And yet, and yet there is hunger and need and suffering and pain from our fellow human beings. It saddens me as I read these comments and essays that we seem not to be closer today than any other time to solving these human problems. We are fragmented, fractured and broken. The prognosis in reading over these comments and other sources, in my opinion, is very gloomy. So, strike up the band, let’s all go to the State Fair!
I was so anxious to put in my two bits worth that I neglected to say how much I admire your writings in general and this post in particular. The temples of stone and cement versus the temples of our spirits reminded me of Pres. Kimball’s talk “The False Gods we Worship,” referring to armaments as “gods of steel.” Your call to faith in the loaves and fishes model reminded me of his call to faith in God, to be pro kingdom of God rather than anti-enemy, etc. You’re one of the Jeremiahs that we need today.
I didn’t know of the two week per month policy, but if I were a branch president with starving children in my unit boundaries, I would defy it in favor of the higher law (even in the limited form enunciated in the handbook). If all branch presidents did this, they would either have to stop releasing them for it, or they would run out of branch presidents.
I agree wholeheartedly about meeting in homes. The buildings where we met in South America had no parking lots because the members had no cars. The units covered large areas, especially the ones in rural areas, yet the members were expected to gather to the central meeting place for the same set of meetings on Sundays and other days as the members in SLC whose entire stake consists of a few city blocks, while the buildings still have big parking lots.
Oops! I meant two weeks per year.
two weeks? Wow–
I’m staggered by all of this–
I appreciate it all being brought to my attention; I’m not sure what to do about it, though–
I know that building worship is a real issue in *our* part of the world–
I thoroughly enjoyed your post. If that is an ok expression for such a weighty and pressing topic. I am LDS and I have also raised many of the questions brought out in this post. Why the Church ever incorporated to begin with is beyond me. From a business perspective, I would understand that. But this is NOT a business. This is supposed to be the Kingdom of God on Earth. I fear it hasn’t been that for a long time. It is fairly clear from the scriptures that Zion cannot exist if there are any poor among the saints.
How can anyone in the church read Moroni’s words in Mormon 8:33-41, or Nephi’s words in 2 Nephi 26:29-31 or 2 Nephi 28:8-2l, and not see that we “fit the bill” of those that are condemned. The Lord’s own words in 3 Nephi 16, regarding the Gentiles who will receive the truth in the latter days, but because of pride and priestcrafts, will have the “fulness of the gospel” taken from them and given to another people, are reason enough to step back and evaluate where we have come as a church. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I fear that this vicious cycle of pride that that we see in the Book of Mormon, that existed even amongst those who proclaimed to belong to the church, is upon us now. And we know what happened to them.
But it is hard to get members of the church to admit this problem. Just today, I was talking to a neighbor of ours, a good friend who is also LDS, and a similar subject as the one in this post, came up. And I said something like, “Do you think that the Lord condones the great wealth of the church, or the building of magnificent malls (by the church), or even the extreme inequality and wealth of some of it’s individual members, while there are thousands around the world, including LDS, that are starving?” And she didn’t see a problem with it. She said something like, “If the Lord blesses someone with riches, why not enjoy them.” And this was from an individual that is far from being wealthy herself. So just imagine what the upper echelons of wealthy in the church are saying to pacify their conscience. But I see this justification over and over amongst the members.
I think if a modern-day Abinadi or Moroni came amongst us now, proclaiming that we, as members of the church, need to severely repent of these heinous sins of turning our back on “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:37), I think they would be stoned or burned, or the modern day equivalent. Excommunicated, maybe…
Anyway, I am scanning the horizon, looking for a ship that will save us (see the following: http://www.parableoftheship.blogspot.com)
you are citing the same scriptures that have been jumping out at me. One of the scariest is the one in chapter 16 of Third Nephi where the Lord puts into a latter-day context the prophesy of Micah concerning “Jacob as a young lion …” tearing through the unrepentant yanqui gringos. The warning is repeated three more times including a last warning by Mormon in his last words to his gentile readers. That warning is immediately followed by a chapter describing the destruction of the Nephites by the Lamanites (as a graphic warning to us gentiles who are the modern equivalents of the Nephites) and then his final chapter (before Moroni takes over) is an appeal to the modern remnants of Jacob to repent after destroying the gentiles.
Is this warning totally in vain?
After the prophesied destruction of the gentiles all of the remnants of Jacob will heed Mormon’s appeal to them to repent and will build up Zion with assistance from a few surviving gentiles. Another type with the same latter-day shadow is the sequence in chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Helaman, where the Lamanites destroy most of the Nephites before repenting and joining the church in mass, a type of the latter-day marvelous work and a wonder, whose foundation has been laid, but remains to blossom forth as a rose in full.
I once asked a visiting authority who spoke to the Spanish speaking members in our region at a special conference why they never talk about these prophesies. He said it was because the general authorities could not agree among themselves on what they meant.
Are our hearts set so much on the things of this world (and the capitalist ideology that justifies our greed) that we cannot understand these warnings?
It was great when we could think that all of those scriptures were somehow warning us about the international communist conspiracy. Then we could quote those warnings in any church meeting. But now that it starts to become more clear that we gentiles are the ones causing all of the trouble, we can no longer say anything.
I am learning so much—
Matthew 25 is an entire sermon. The first two parables Jesus told was about the ten virgins. The five virgins that had enough would not share with the other five. The stern master punished the one servant who would not use the talent to get interest which was against the law of God (usury). THEN it says the Lord comes and he judges differently then the world and separates the goats from the sheep. We have misread the parable of the virgins and the talents for so long when in fact the Lord was teaching Israel that to exclude the five virgins from society because they did not have oil or punish the servant/hireling because he did not play the economic game correctly makes us goats. This paster of spiritually brilliant. thanks
Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured below) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service….only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food….NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation……..”We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek”….The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation…..The homeless man sitting in the back stood up…..and started walking down the aisle…..the clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him….he walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment….then he recited
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning…many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame…. he then said….Today I see a gathering of people……not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples…when will YOU decide to become disciples? He then dismissed service until next week…….Being a Christian is more than something you claim. I’ts something you live by and share with others.
Jesus had a subversive message that undermined the worldly order of privilege=of-the-few that persists to this day. “The chief is the servant.” “Don’t fight those whom your leaders have designated as enemies.” Don’t support the economy of Babylon, as in “take no thought for the morrow.” Etc. Hundreds of years later the establishment was just as outraged with Francis of Assis when he caught the spirit of the sermon on the mount. Fortunately a pope humbled by his example gave him protection. (At least that’s the way it is portrayed in “Brother Sum and Sister Moon.”)
So Matthew 25 has an esoteric subversive message visible to those with “eyes to see and ears to hear,” but not to those who “looking do not see and listening do not hear” and so (according to Isaiah) are not healed . If the chapter did not also have an innocuous, banal, exoteric interpretation, it might never have survived intact the excision of plain and precious things that was pointed out to Nephi by an angel..
Note that implicitly Matt 25 has the same format as Jesus’ teachings in the sermon on the mount: first laying out what “they of old” have been teaching before telling how it is supposed to be in the kingdom of God. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first two parables were rabbinic sayings (already familiar to Jesus’ listeners) admonishing the Jews to be prepared when the Messiah came. Hence the identification of the bridegroom and the harsh master with the Messiah in those first two parables.
When Jesus says “the kingdom of God is like unto .. X” he usually doesn’t mean that the noun clause X is the part of the parable that corresponds to the kingdom of God in the analogy. Rather it is his way of saying “I’m going to tell you a story about X in order to teach you something about the kingdom of God
Hugh Nibley was fond of pointing out that all of the “virtues” emphasized so highly in the education of a business major, things like persistence, hard work, careful planning, preparedness, etc. were things that would be part of the education of any jewel thief. It doen’t mean that these qualities are useless, but you could learn them from the schools of Babylon just as well as from BYU.
The first two parables are of the type that might be taught in jewel thief school: be prepared, don’t be caught unawares, and don’t expect anyone to help you if you are caught off guard.
(Sorry for the typo’s. I’ve been squeezing this in in spare minutes.)
In the third parable, by way of contrast, the sheep are surprised to find out that what they did out of compassion actually was the key to distinguishing them from the goats. They had lost themselves in the service of others, and were so found by the Lord, who rewarded them openly for what they did in secret, etc.
I forgot to mention the most subversive teaching of all: debt forgiveness. Jesus taught debt forgiveness, a foolish practice in the eyes of men, but one of the most important features of the original Law of Moses. Furthermore he taught (like king Benjamin) that if you don’t forgive the debts that are owed to you, then you should not expect God to keep bank rolling your eternal progress. This was highly offensive to the proud leaders of the establishment who liked to think that only the poor people like Lazarus should be beggars.
I wanted to know more about this amazing pastor you talked about, so I searched around the internet. It turns out that the Jeremiah Steepek story that has been floating around the internet is probably a hoax, in spite of the powerful message it carries:
But there is an actual pastor named Willie Lyle, in Clarksville, Tennessee, who recently did a similar thing:
This gives me something exciting to think about–especially the parables–
all of it does–thank you.
This is an amazing and very necessary conversation that is taking place on this post. Ron and Forest: both of you continually deepen my understanding of what it means to be a true Christian, and deepen my understanding of the scriptures, far more than anything I ever hear in official conference talks, and certainly far more than anything I’ve ever read in any official lesson manuals.
One thing that has been standing out to me a lot recently is Jesus’s admonition to visit those who are in prison. Often I have heard well-meaning Mormons explain this away as a commandment to help those who are figuratively in prison, “held captive by sins such as smoking or drinking” or whatever. But It seems as clear as day to me that he meant it quite literally, just as he did when he talked about feeding the hungry and visiting the sick. He was not talking about the “spiritually hungry”, or the “spiritually sick”, but people who are literally hungry and literally sick; so why not those who are literally in prison? It especially makes sense in light of the fact that so many of Christ’s most faithful disciples throughout the scriptures spent time in actual, physical prisons (not to mention many of the most faithful early Mormon leaders).
And I must agree that the Jubilee is both wise, healthy for society, and something that, if the Church and its official leaders were to take seriously, could pose a major threat to capitalism. For those who doubt the wisdom of debt forgiveness, I suggest anthropologist David Graeber’s excellent book Debt: the First 5,000 Years, in which he very skillfully destroys the conventional wisdom about what debt actually is, what ends it actually serves, and what it actually means in the bigger picture of human history.
Tariq, thanks for your encouragement. I always learn something real and valuable from your posts and comments, too.
“The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander raised my consciousness about the massive unnecessary incarceration of blacks, as a tool of disenfranchisement.
The book that first raised my consciousness about prison conditions was written by Jack London near the beginning of the last century: “Star Rover.” And it appears from Democracy Now reports that things have not gotten any better. [On a side note, on his astral wanderings out of solitary confinement the protagonist of Star Rover is a witness of the mountain meadows massacre. I wonder how much that incident affected London’s opinion of Mormonism.]
But more fundamentally, I believe that Jesus considers a kind word to the most guilty prisoner an act of kindness to himself. “The prisoners shall go free.”
A dear friend of ours (young; we knew him as a small child when we were already adults) has ended up in prison, under very strange circumstances; he was doing all the ‘right’ Mormon things when it happened, oddly enough, but he got caught by something bizarre; his sentence isn’t ‘right’; he was falsely sentenced, but that doesn’t matter to the ‘powers that be’; he was a child of a single mother and, though he was successful (mission, temple marriage, college degrees and a high-paying job) he now has nothing (in terms of money), and none of those associated with him can help him, including us. However, we are doing a prison ministry with him, and it’s very time and heart and energy consuming (that sounded like a complaint; we love him, so we don’t care about that, but . . .)–
when we try to tell people at church, “we don’t have time for that (a special assignment of some kind); we are doing a prison ministry”–
we get blank looks and complete incomprehension. We don’t live in the same state as our young friend (not so young anymore, but that’s beside the point); our financial resources are strained, but we have power of attorney, etc.–and we constantly petition his lawyer and anyone else who will listen–
It’s been very eye-opening–
What we are doing is not considered ‘valid’ by our LDS ward members/friends–
so we don’t mention it to many people; at first we thought that maybe we should try to give ourselves more time/energy for the ministry by telling people, “sorry; can’t do that now (take balloons to the ward ‘happy day’ party–sorry; couldn’t resist it)”–
just thought it would be interesting to put this in–
our friend has little hope of getting out soon; it’s been very difficult–we just have to hang on–
but he’s been forgotten by almost everyone in his life–
Another great person who was falsely imprisoned was Joseph who was sold into Egypt.
My sister-in-law works as a psychologist at one of the state prisons. She says that at least half of the prisoners are there because of being bullied into plea bargains on threat of longer sentences for crimes they did not commit.
She has told us of innocent mothers separated from their children, etc.
We know of one Mormon man who was falsely imprisoned, and who, like Joseph of old, is an inspiration to the younger prisoners. He has his own prison ministry as it were.
My father served a prison ministry for years as an official church calling, He loved it. Though my father has passed away, the ministry is ongoing (my mother has substituted for the new teacher). I know there are such ministries elsewhere, too.
We have a new son who starved in the United States until he was saved after several years from his parents. Sometimes a lack of resources is not the issue; parental drug use is a bigger problem for children in our country than an actual lack of resources.
The new mall is a money maker, not an expense. It should make enough money to finance itself and earn money to alleviate poverty and address other goals.
I feel the need to offer kindness and forgiveness to those trying to do well even if I disagree with them.
I feel that the church’s projects to eliminate childhood diseases and provide clean water in Africa are beautifully conceived and well implemented.
I met in a variety of buildings for church as a child — banks, schools, deteriorated buildings soon to be condemned :). We were so very happy to save money and help build our new building. When I visited in the Domincan Republic, the new building was a joy to members, and a light to other community members.
I see families who live the gospel faithfully change their lives over time. If they are hungry at first, they usually are not after a time. The gospel is the best way I’ve seen for that change to happen.
We absolutely should do all the good we can to alleviate poverty hunger, and suffering. There are many avenues to do that these days. And we should also do everything we can to forgive and avoid unrighteous judgements. The tone of this site is so well intended, and kinder than many, so I thought you might listen to what I had to say 😉
I like your perspective!
[…] 1/8 of an Inch (Ron Madson, The Mormon Worker) […]
Here’s how we could start living the law of consecration without any change in the church handbook of instructions:
1. Someone good at researching public statistics find out for each stake of the church the median income of households within the boundaries of that stake, and post these numbers on the internet.
2. Find the median m of these medians.
3. Challenge the members whose incomes are greater than m to live within the income m rather than within their own means M, and to donate the excess (M-m) to fast offerings
4. Members that cannot live within the median income level m because of the high cost of living within their stake should work towards living within the median household income m’ for their own stake, and donate (M-m’) when possible.
When, as a young deacon, I collected fast offerings, people used to ask me, “How much should I pay?”
Now 53 years later I think I could give a satisfactory answer: “It’s between you and the Lord, but in my humble opinion if your income is greater than the median, you should give as much of the excess as you possibly can.”
If you were a stake president and found out about this challenge, and saw that some members in some stakes were responding to it, wouldn’t you encourage the members of your stake to respond more fully, too?
Who can get those numbers? And after that, who can get the challenge out to the bloggernacle?
Here’s a link to a pdf file that contains (starting on page 14) the current cost of living estimates for missionary couples.
You can find the mission that you live in and see the estimated expense for a senior couple in your mission. Divide that by two and multiply it by the number of people in your household to see a rough estimate (probably on the high side) of the typical means of a member family of your size in your mission. Even though it leaves out some of the things like insurance that well off families consider essential, it probably is an over-estimate for the median family.
Do you live within that amount?
This is really interesting. If we don’t count the single adult who works who lives with us and doesn’t pay anything (we feed this person, but he/she has not, yet, been able to become independent; he/she pays for his/her own clothing and transportation, including a used car and insurance for it, but we feed him/her and house him/her without reimbursement)–
if we count him/her we are WAY under; if we don’t count him/her we are a little over–
but only for a few months; our income will be decreasing substantially in three months–
this is most interesting; that is actually a very comfortable figure–
it is high–
we just have children who won’t launch, and the Lord has said “no” to ‘tough love’ on this one–
mercy; I’ve gotten personal–
I know your question was rhetorical–
YES; how did you know? Yes, that is what happened to our friend, and the lawyer just sends him sympathetic letters. This sounds really ‘fishy’ to me; who benefits from this?
qui bono (sp?)–
it wouldn’t happen, if someone didn’t benefit. Here sits our friend, and he could be working–
*shaking my head*
Sadly, his wife left him; they had been unable to have children; she left him, married someone else and has a child–
so he’s lost everything–
The prison industry is a huge wing of the Great and Abominable Church that has been built up to get power and gain..
I can believe that–
Thanks for taking this challenge seriously. I’ve been thinking more about it, and it dawned on me that the biggest obstacle facing a member family that would like to live within the amount of these guidelines is debt. Someone with little or no debt should be able to live within these guidelines without trouble.
What if a stake president decided to ask willing members to contribute to a debt reduction fund in his stake on the same kind of basis as the perpetual immigration fund and the perpetual education fund? Those who have been helped would continue to contribute to the fund so that others can be helped. The priority of help could be determined by lottery, by need, by interest rate, or some combination of these, and willingness to live within the cost of living guidelines that we have been talking about. All else being equal, it is advantageous to pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first.
There are companies that buy debts (for pennies on the dollar) from banks and credit card companies, and then go after the debtors aggressively. On the other hand there are debt relief charities (e.g. rollingjubilee at http://rollingjubilee.org/ ) that buy debts for pennies on the dollar and then forgive the debtors, as mandated in the Lord’s prayer. It seems to me that a stake of the church should be able to do the same thing, at least in the case of the most egregious debts of its members.
Anybody with me on this?
I’m with you.
That was quick. Thanks!
I’d never thought of any of this. We have very little debt, but we are low income–
It shouldn’t matter, though–
what matters is a willing heart–
Perhaps the next step is to draft a proposal that could be presented to a stake president.
The preamble could include some of the following points
* Harold B Lee was a stake president during the great depression when he started his stake welfare plan that was eventually adopted by the church.
* Pres. Uchtdorf encouraged the stakes to find their own ways of implementing welfare principles adapted to their own circumstances.
* Throughout the D&C the Lord expresses interest in our “temporal salvation.”
* Debt relief through the “jubilee” and the seven year release was an important part of the Law of Moses, just as were the Ten Commandments that have never been rescinded. A strong version of debt relief was implicitly included in “The Law of My Church in the Latter Days” (section 42) along with the Ten Commandments.
* Many of our members are in economic captivity like that from which the European Gentiles were delivered according to Nephi’s vision.
* A small village in the Congo quickly grew in population and church membership after the church made water available by digging a well.
* One of the meanings of salvation is deliverance. “Deliverance of the captives” as used in the New and Old testaments refers to deliverance from debt and debtors’ prisons as much as it does spiritual deliverance.from sin and spirit prison.
* This proposal is in the spirit of the Perpetual Immigration Fund and the Perpetual Education Fund. It is valid for the same reasons.
* If Joseph who was sold into Egypt had not saved his family temporally, we wouldn’t be here talking about the gathering of Israel today.
What an interesting idea! I want to think about this. As with most policies, the details make a big difference. I’m commenting partly to stay involved as we pursue good information or thoughtful implementation.
Thanks for being open minded. We’re not supposed to write to general authorities, but I have mentioned the debt relief idea to our bishop and stake president.
The stake president said that he thought systematic debt relief would be a possible project for the priesthood quorums of the stake some time in the future.
The bishop thought that a program of debt relief would just encourage members to max out their credit cards.
So there isn’t much enthusiasm for this idea in this stake.
The bishop’s response is typical, and doesn’t surprise me, given the general attitude of well-off members that people on food stamps are just too lazy to get a job, etc.
However, the Church already has programs to help people temporally, and although a few members try to selfishly exploit these programs, they are a small minority. Furthermore, there are checks and balances designed to foil these attempts. The bishops are the gate keepers, and they guard the widow’s mite with both prudence and compassion according to the Spirit.
It seems to me that the practices that safeguard fast offering assistance could be adapted to a perpetual debt relief program.
The other big obstacle is the attitude that we shouldn’t entertain these ideas because if they are inspired, then the general authorities will be the ones to come up with them. Don’t worry about it!
Perhaps when the need becomes more acute, when more and more stateside members get foreclosed on, when we are afflicted sorely with hunger and exposure, …. perhaps then we will be ready to at least practice debt relief (as per the Law of Moses) if not go all the way and live the law of consecration implicit in our baptismal covenants.
In the mean time, as individuals we can live our covenants by giving generously to the fast offering. An idea of the median standard of living in our area can help get us into the ballpark of what is relatively generous, as outlined above.
I’d love to hear more of your thoughts!
I don’t believe our SP would be open to it–
sad to say. He’s very sufficient unto himself–
and not very approachable. He’s done a few good things, but overall he’s a man of tradition, and some of the things he has ‘pressed for’ are in the ‘silly’ category–
But I could be wrong–
Maybe you have a SP’s ear; if so, bless you–
Here’s the most simple and direct approach I can think of:
At baptism we covenanted to bear one anothers’ burdens that they may be light.
There is no greater burden than onerous debt, except the burden of guilt from sin.
Sin is passing up opportunities to keep our baptismal covenant of sharing our neighbor’s burden.
Interesting how this link
can be applied to the sort of foods provided to Church welfare recipients. Where’s the Word of Wisdom in what they are being fed?