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Thursday, July 28, 2011

08: BUILDING ZION

photo taken from the top floor of ZIONS BANK.


This was written by a friend of mine with permission to post.


“Zion is not in our power to create or build, except as we individually repent, be baptized and come to the Lord individually (especially for us Gentiles).  The Lord will take care of Zion...it is His to build...not ours.  We have never been given any kind of deadline or time line to create it...can't be done.  We can only create the image of it , which might be fine, but it can't come before the "first thing,” or our hearts. We won't find Zion in spending billions "fixing up" downtown SLC, in order that our self-proclaimed sacred places won't be defiled. This is not Zion, for Zion is not to be protected by the influx of large sums of money to pretty it up. The Lord will dwell there (literally) and will sustain and protect it (the inhabitants). The shadow by day, and pillar by night. We desperately want Zion (and who can blame us, we really do want peace and beauty), but we think to create it by our own hand, works, and money, and not in the Lord's way (by literally seeking his face out). This is the only way for us Gentiles to "get in."  This is difficult and appears to distract us from building it. Nothing is further from the truth. Zion is, after all, like the definition of "the church."  It is found wherever one has entertained the Lord. And here's where we see truth from darkness: can Zion be built in such a way as to desire to "exclude?”  Indeed not. The pure in heart do not wish to exalt themselves. They wish to descend below all in service.  This is a good indicator, I think. Such attitudes of service and descending below all are the hallmark of those who would follow Him and live in Zion. But we feign those attitudes. "Here we come, to the rescue!" We have this serious need to affirm to ourselves that we are in fact "doing the real thing," that we indeed have Zion, that we can actually reach out and rescue others (implying we ourselves are saved).  I'm not so sure we are/do.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

07: FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW: Tribute to the Military

photo of a full page ad in the Deseret News
This weekend we celebrate Pioneer Day or what we refer to in Utah as the 24th of July. This day is to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley after being forced from Nauvoo. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir have chosen an interesting theme this year for its performance in the sold out 21,000 seat Conference Center. The advertisement in the Deseret News appears that instead of honoring the pioneers… we will be paying tribute to those who serve in the U.S. military. It is ironic because it was largely due to the U.S. Government and military threat that our pioneer ancestors had to move out west.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to pay tribute to the military and those who have sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom. However …on another holiday. That is what the 4th of July is for me. Not sure why we are paying a militiary tribute on the 24th of July instead of the real reason we celebrate the 24th of July. It is kind of like going Trick or Treating on Thanksgiving. Two separate holidays for me.

I also think that paying tribute to “FOR THOSE THAT FOLLOW” is quite interesting. It is almost like a subliminal message for me. We as members of the church are exceptionally good at following. We are taught, sing and testify of the importance of following the prophet. It gives us security to know that we will never be led astray. We should be honored for following. I mean… we are the chosen people, right? Since the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, most of the LDS members who live in the greater Salt Lake Valley have now become Uber Americans,  Uber Republicans, Uber War on Terrorists supporters, and Uber Mainstream Christians. We have become  generally respected and admired. Two potential candidates for 2012 election for President of the USA are LDS leaders and successful businessman. Even more interesting is the new Award winning Broadway play about a Mormon missionary and tickets are sold out almost for an entire year in advance.

We have finally arrived.. we have become accepted.

Here are some an interesting quotes given by Brigham Young, the man largely responsible for why we celebrate the 24th of July:

“There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges, and aids to exaltations, principalities, and powers in the eternities of the Gods.” (Brigham Young, April 8, 1862, JD 10:32)

“And when the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then; which I pray may never come.”(Brigham Young, May 31, 1857, JD 4:326-327)

I will end  with this quote by Spencer W. Kimball in his conference talk, "The False Gods We Worship".

“We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel -- ships, planes, missiles, fortifications -- and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I love those men and women who have died for our country. They deserve our respect and our love for preserving our freedom. So do the pioneers.  They both deserve their own holiday and concert tribute. Let’s keep the holidays separate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

06: WILL I RECOGNIZE HIM.. or is it possible that I am a MODERN-DAY JEW?

If I lived over 2000 years ago, would I have been just like the law abiding Jews steeped in religious tradition and assumptions and not have recognized Christ?
 
An interesting event occurred last week that has caused me to think about the answers to this question.

On July 8, 2011, there was a news report of an arrest and imprisonment of a homeless man who requested to meet with LDS President Thomas S. Monson.  The charge that led to his arrest was "stalking" which if convicted could be a felony.

36 year-old Benjamin Tucker Staples, who goes by the alias Jesus Christ, was booked into the Salt Lake County jail Friday where he's being held on two Class A misdemeanor charges.

Police say Staples was taken into custody after making repeated visits to the LDS Church's administration building in downtown Salt Lake City where he demanded to meet with President Monson.

He reportedly made five such visits since June 25th and in each instance had to be removed from the building by Salt Lake Police. Church security officers had warned Staples not return to the property and had issued a written trespassing order. Bond for Staples' stalking charges total $26,850. His case is being heard in Salt Lake's Third District Court. For a homeless man, coming up with that bail money might be very difficult, he probably will be in prison for awhile.

The predominant religious leaders at the time of Jesus Christ were the Pharisees. One of many of the religious sects responsible for the imprisonment and ultimate crucifixion of Our Savior. I have always been taught that that the Pharisees were wicked and evil men. But in reading the definition in the LDS Bible Dictionary, I found that I had much in common with them. 
Quoting for my scriptures,

"Their belief included the doctrine of immortality and resurrection of the body and the existence of angels and spirits. They prided themselves on their strict observance of the law, and on the care with which they avoided contact with things gentile. They encouraged self-sufficiency and spiritual pride."

The Pharisees were temple-going and a very religious people who observed the Law passed down to them by God through Moses. They followed the ancient prophets and followed the high priests who had the authority to sit in Moses’ seat.

Yet, here comes a man named Jesus Christ, one who did not have the recognized authority by the current religious leaders. He did not have social standing, and probably would be considered a man without a permanent home… basically homeless. Would I have agreed to have him imprisoned if he did not fit the mold of my religious leaders or asked to speak several times with the Presiding High Priest?
 
This recent news event has now given new meaning to the scripture found in Matthew 25: 35-36

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.