A thought on Cassandra Hedelius’ FAIR presentation

[Cassandra Hedelius‘ presentation “A house of order, a house of God” can be found here.]

I’ll admit I think this is a poor presentation (no reason to pussy foot around here). As someone who has spent a great deal of time studying the scriptures and statements of general authorities, it is apparent that Hedelius is a professional scripture-wrester. I was going to write up a detailed response, but found it pointless and time consuming. It’s clear that she isn’t bringing any real arguments to the table. There isn’t a dialogue. Orthodox Neo-Catholicism is true, because it is, because we say it is, fruits be damned!

Honestly, I’m not sure if Hedelius ever proposes a solution to “Gnosticism” (read “Non-Neo-Catholic-Orthodoxy“). We gnostics are just so bitter because of “spiritual darkness . . . from reading accusations against church leaders” that it would take some enlightened individual to salvage even an ounce of our former faith. I presume it’s nearly impossible to change a “Gnostic Mormon’s” mind because they are typically better scholars of the gospel than their Neo-Catholic brothers (but remember, knowing what the scriptures teach = spiritual darkness, so the most enlightened are the least knowledgeable).

Let me show you how stupid this presentation was with one example. Toward the end Hedelius presents the steps to apostasy (as she sees it):

Let’s look back again at the apostasy progression we talked about before:

  1. I’m a loyal church member and I follow church leaders. I read about others’ prophecies because I long to hear more of God’s word and prepare for the future.
  2. I assume church leaders have visions and prophecies just like these others I’m reading about, since they all come from God. It’s a shame church leaders can’t talk openly about them; it must be because most church members are too faithless to handle it. I’m glad I’ve found these other sources for learning these things.
  3. Maybe church leaders don’t have these visions and prophecies. Perhaps because they’re too wrapped up in managing the church’s assets and employees, or they’re too full of themselves and their high calling. It’s a shame the church has become so corporate and uninspired. There is no prophecy or revelation from God to the church anymore.
  4. The church is apostate. I have found the replacement.

By the time a Mormon Gnostic gets to stage 3, he’s looking for a way to justify his conclusion that the Church has lost its way and Church leaders are uninspired and even corrupt. They often turn to a cherry-picked, twisted historical narrative that finds fault with church leaders and actions throughout history.

Stage 3 is surely bad. Only one step away from total Judas-Nehor-level apostasy. [gasp] However, what if (stay with me here for just a second, Neo-Catholics) church leaders admit that they don’t have visions and prophecies? Here are a couple examples:

  1. Elder Oaks recently said, “Modern apostles are called to be witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world, Doctrine and Covenants 107:23. This is not to witness of a personal manifestation. To witness of the name is to witness of the plan, the work, or mission such as the atonement and the authority or priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which an apostle who holds the keys is uniquely responsible to do. Of course apostles are also witnesses of Christ just like all members of the Church who have the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  2. In Chapter 2 of the Joseph Fielding Smith “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” manual, he is quoted as having written: “I did not live in the days of our Savior; he has not come to me in person. I have not beheld him. His Father and he have not felt it necessary to grant me such a great blessing as this. But it is not necessary. I have felt his presence. I know that the Holy Spirit has enlightened my mind and revealed him unto me, so that I do love my Redeemer, I hope, and feel it is true, better than everything else in this life.”
  3. In Elder Packer’s very candid October 2007 general conference talk “The Weak and the Simple of the Church” he recounts: “Some years ago, I was with President Marion G. Romney, meeting with mission presidents and their wives in Geneva, Switzerland. He told them that 50 years before, as a missionary boy in Australia, late one afternoon he had gone to a library to study. When he walked out, it was night. He looked up into the starry sky, and it happened. The Spirit touched him, and a certain witness was born in his soul. He told those mission presidents that he did not know any more surely then as a member of the First Presidency that God the Father lives; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; and that the fulness of the gospel had been restored than he did as a missionary boy 50 years before in Australia. He said that his testimony had changed in that it was much easier to get an answer from the Lord. The Lord’s presence was nearer, and he knew the Lord much better than he had 50 years before. There is the natural tendency to look at those who are sustained to presiding positions, to consider them to be higher and of more value in the Church or to their families than an ordinary member. Somehow we feel they are worth more to the Lord than are we. It just does not work that way!

If you believe the words of these prophets and apostles, then you are three-quarters apostate. Hedelius’ argument is so illogical and confusing it is the religious equivalent of Orwell’s 1984.

Literally, to avoid apostasy and/or Mormon Gnosticism you must reject the testimonies of the church leaders, believe they are dishonest (for admitting a lack of what we would call “prophetic” experiences), and then actually engage in the same cherry-picking of quotes (which is so evil) to support the notion of continuing revelation through the medium of apostolic succession over the past two centuries.

Ignorance truly is strength. Apostasy is righteousness.


Enoch’s Vocal Earth

[As with the last post, I am putting forward a new interpretation of familiar verses with mormonism.]

Enoch was caught up in vision to behold “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Moses 7:21), “generation upon generation” (verse 24). While he is “in the bosom of the Father and of the Son of Man” (verse 24), he sees God (presumably the Father) weep.

He also hears a mirrored lamentation coming from below his “high and lifted up” position:

And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: ‘Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?’ And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord . . .” (verses 48-49).

William Clayton’s diary records the following teaching from Joseph Smith ( 2 April 1843):

there is no angel ministers to this earth only what either does belong or has belonged to this earth and the angels do not reside on a planet like our earth but they dwell with God and the planet where he dwells is like crystal, and like a sea of glass before the throne. This is the great Urim & Thummim whereon all things are manifest both things past, present & future and are continually before the Lord. The Urim & Thummim is a small representation of this globe. The earth when it is purified will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim & Thummim whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom or all kingdoms of a lower order will be manifest to those who dwell on it. and this earth will be with Christ” [sic].

Instead of a typical interpretation where Enoch is literally hearing the earth speaking, maybe we are witnessing an example of what Joseph Smith was talking about: the earth acting as a urim and thummim to Enoch.

When you read in the scriptures about a voice proceeding out of the heavens or the sky, does it lead you to conclude that the sky is literally speaking? The sky is obviously not the true source of the voice. To use another example, if a prophet is employing a physical object such as a urim and thummim, do you assume the stones are the source of the revelation or the medium?

Enoch was lifted up as an angel, dwelling in the presence of the Father. He had ascended to a celestial position (dwelling with the Father) while still in mortality. In this position, the earth could act as a urim and thummim to him, manifesting all things pertaining to all kingdoms of a lower order. But the voice from below, echoing the Father’s mourning from above, may not originate from the earth, but rather be using the earth as a medium to speak.

I apologize to the granola crunchers in my audience for disputing a literal mother earth spirit.

Nephi’s Many Waters

Metropolis (1927)

Nephi was told there is a connection between his vision and John’s revelation: “But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them. And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel. And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel” (1 Nephi 14: 25-27).

It is clear from 1 Nephi 14: 11 that they saw some of the same material. Nephi records: “And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.”

The correlating material is found in Rev 17: 1, 15. John records: “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters .  .  . And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”

There is another event recorded earlier in Nephi’s vision involving many waters. A man is seperated from Lehi’s seed by many waters and goes forth upon the waters to reach them: “And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren. And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land. And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters” (1 Nephi 13: 10-13).

If you read the above passages carefully, liberation from “captivity” is associated with being “upon the many waters,” no longer under the whore of the earth.

Perhaps considering John’s definition of the many waters as “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” would lead us to a less literal interpretation of the man who reaches Lehi’s seed (not a Columbus figure). Maybe what Nephi saw was a man who at last escaped the captivity of the whore of the earth. The man was no longer under her dominion, no longer like his peers “wave[s] of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1: 6). Now that the man was no longer subjugated like the multitudes and nations of the earth (many waters), he was in a position to reach and help Lehi’s seed (having ascended above the cultural, ethnic, political, and languages differences that seperated him from Lehi’s seed). If being upon the many waters is a state of spiritual ascent, it would not require transatlantic voyage.

Now the real question: do I actually believe the idea I just put forward?

Beatitudes in public places

“How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes? Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. And so on.

“Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly George W Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld stuff.

“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus.

“I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. ‘Blessed are the merciful‘ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers‘ in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”

– Kurt Vonnegut
Extracted from ‘A Man Without a Country’

JST Matthew 21: 44–56

Criminally neglected. Reproduced here. Source.

Brief commentary: In the Bible, we learn that the kingdom is taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. In the JST, we learn that the Lord of the vineyard will likewise be displeased with the Gentiles, and in similar fashion destroy them / grind them.

JST Matthew 21: 44–56

Jesus said unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. For whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. And they said among themselves, Shall this man think that he alone can spoil this great kingdom? And they were angry with him But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they learned that the multitude took him for a prophet.

And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them, Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them? Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me.

I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken. And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (meaning the Gentiles). Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.

And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.


Strangers in Paradox

Strangers in Paradox by Margaret & Paul Toscano is an interesting read. It is now out of print, but can still be read online on Signature Books Library. I purchased a used copy over Amazon for a couple bucks; someone was very eager to get rid of it.

My copy has things underlined and notes in the margins by the previous owner. Most of the notes read “blasphemy“, “heresy“, or “false doctrine” next to sections they found especially pernicious. It made me laugh on several occasions. It was equally interesting reading the book as it was trying to figure out why someone would go through the trouble of reading it when they so passionately despised it.

I am happy with my copy, which will never let me forget how evil it really is.

As with most things the Toscanos have to say, there is a lot I disagree with, but they provide a unique voice in mormon thought. I found Chapter 19 “Zion: Vision or Mirage” worthwhile. It can be found here.

Quick Question on Foot Washing

Jesus washed all of the apostles feet after supper (John 13:4-5). Soon after, he identified his betrayer and Judas left the group to do what the devil had put into his heart (John 13:26-30).

These are a few questions on foot washings, specifically the scene in John 13.

Why did Jesus wash Judas’ feet before he identified and sent him away? Why didn’t he send Judas away then wash the remaining disciples’ feet? Does this tell us anything about Jesus?