Sunday, March 28, 2010

Harold B. Lee's 111th Birthday

On this day in history, 111 years ago, Harold B. Lee was born.  Click on the link for a snippet of his early life preserved for us today through the magic of modern technology.

This day in history is important to me because without his birth mine would not have occurred. 

He made his appearance on this earth in a little obscure farming community not far from today's Preston, Idaho, in a town called Clifton.  There's a prominent geographical feature, a visible series of cliffs nearby, that lends its rock walls to the town's name.

My heritage linking me to Clifton, Idaho, has become more significant to me in recent years.  I learned of a long-forgotten building in that community that is undergoing a restoration -- the Oneida Stake Academy.  I met a dear friend Necia Seamons, who is president of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation, while we were trying to assist them in their fund raising efforts through our Legacy Now securitization project in recent years.

A few weeks ago I was contacted to return to Preston for the purpose of making a video production to encourage donors to contribute to the project.  In hindsight, I could have said so much more than I did when I was actually filming -- you know, all the things that suddenly flood your mind after you're done?

So today, I thought I would reflect a bit on his childhood growing up in Clifton, Idaho, and what the lessons have meant to me that he gleaned in attending the Oneida Stake Academy.  All those basic truths have been transmitted to me and to the rest of his posterity.

The interviewer asked me, "If these walls could speak, what would they say to you?"  I gave an off-the-top-of-my-head response, but upon further reflection I would like to revise and extend my remarks some. . .

The Oneida Stake Academy building is still standing today, though it is a mere shell of its once grand opulence for such a humble community.  Back in the day it was the center of civilization for that community.  It was the hub of social, community, religious, athletic, artistic and musical expression.  Its magnificent stonework and interior woodwork still testify to loving devotion and sacrifice required to construct it and preserve it.

The early funds raised were devoted to moving the building from its obscure location on the campus of Preston High School, to its present location on a corner in the town park.  It took a million plus dollars to accomplish, a modern engineering feat that is astounding.

I toured the relocated building to get a feel for the need, and I was immediately engaged.  I was taken up into the bellfry where the graduating seniors scrawled their lasting signatures into the plaster walls lining the staircase.  I was enthralled with the living history that jumped out at me -- hundreds and hundreds of names, all real people, all progenitors of those now living.  They were preserved in a lasting memorial -- they had lived, loved, learned, played, sung and danced in that building, and the visual evidence of their existence is still there! 

I searched in vain for Harold B. Lee's name, but could not find it.  He was undoubtedly there somewhere, but in the fading light with little time to search for it, I had to be content with knowing merely that he graduated from that institution of learning.  There it was he had his first taste of the thrill of education.  He later himself was an educator, the principal at the nearby Silver Star School in Weston.  His love of learning never left him, and he transmitted it to me and the rest of his posterity.  He excelled in debate, wrestling, basketball, and music.

His love of music was no doubt instilled in him at the Oneida Stake Academy.  He played the baritone sax, the slide trombone and the piano.  His musical ability was a way to make a few extra dollars playing in a dance band during those early years.  His piano skills lasted well into his later years as the accompanist to his brethren of the Twelve in the Holy Temple as they gathered for their weekly Thursday meetings.

As I enter the front door of the Oneida Stake Academy today, it simply shouts out to me -- those walls indeed do speak!

The story is told that after they were married my sweet Nana, Harold B. Lee's first love, asked him, "Harold, what ever happened to your old slide trombone?"  He gently squeezed her left hand, pointing to her wedding ring and simply said, "You're wearing it, dearie."

Legion are the lessons of hard work instilled in Harold as a boy living on the farm, eeking out a living with his siblings and their parents.  Of course, I was never aware of the toil and sacrifice of his early boyhood, since I came along as his eldest grandson when he was a seasoned and revered Church leader, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and later eleventh President of the Church. 

I was married and had babes of my own when he died unexpectedly on December 26, 1973, the day after spending a good portion of Christmas Day with us in my parents' home. 

But when I toured the Oneida Stake Academy for the first time, those walls spoke to me as they still do whenever I'm there.  They tell me of toil and strife, fun and frivolity, serious and lighthearted study and learning, sweet music and childhood innocence. 

They speak of the early lessons in his life about how to recognize the voice of the spirit of the Holy Ghost.

They whisper that hard work always pays, that self-reliance is a necessary spiritual endeavor, not just a temporal reality, and that out of small beginnings come great lives.  President Ezra Taft Benson from nearby Whitney, Idaho, also claims the Oneida Stake Academy as his alma mater. 

They scream a warning to me that is unmistakable -- in a day of indulgent and lavish government spending, don't forget the lessons mastered by your ancestors:  "Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."  In the days that lie ahead I have a feeling those lessons will still be needed as never before.

They affirm that it was here within these walls and in the fields of the family farm that Harold B. Lee was uniquely prepared by God to shoulder the responsibility that would later rest upon him to give succor and aid to those valiant priesthood brethren of his beloved Pioneer Stake and later the whole Church as the managing director of what became the Welfare Program in 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression. 

Ezra Taft Benson succored the saints in war-torn Europe following World War II, and was Secretary of Agriculture under Dwight D. Eisenhower.  They came from the same rugged pioneer farm stock of the Cache Valley.

How ironic (is it coincidence?) and humbling it is to me personally that today my dear companion Patsy and I now serve together as a senior missionary couple assigned to Welfare Square as the Chair of the Professional Placement Program of the Employment Resource Center.  So what do those walls tell me?  "Go and do likewise, David."

And then I seem to hear, if I listen closely to those talking walls, "Coincidence in our lives is only God wishing to remain anonymous."

Those halls echo that the lessons of frugality, spending only what we earn and putting aside a little for a rainy day, are lessons still worth living in a society gone mad with entitlements, deficit spending and bailouts as far as the eye can see. 

So why preserve an old building in the midst of the "worst recession since the Great Depression?"  Why ask for donations from pockets that are already stretched to the limit?  Maybe because those walls in Preston, Idaho still speak peace to my soul, and they urge, "Preserve these walls today that we may continue to teach those old pioneer lessons to YOUR children and grandchildren when they step inside."

I urge the readers of this page to contact my friends at the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation and make a generous donation to a great old building worth preserving.

Just tell them Harold B. Lee sent you. . .  on his 111th birthday!

Visualization of BIG NUMBERS

This representation will help dramatically with your BIG NUMBER vizualization problem.  Click on the link. 

Knowing that we all suffer from this problem, the President does a very effective job of helping us to THINK that $100,000,000 in budget cuts he proposed way back in April 2009 was a big deal.  He just has to say the words and we're impressed, it seems.  But what do you think after watching the video? 

Are you beginning to get the vizualization more clearly defined in your mind now of what adding $1 Tillion in the country's debt really means?  Can you even begin to understand why the course this government is pursuing in its monetary and fiscal policies is unsustainable? 

Instead of being depressed about it, do as I am doing.  Help to be part of the solution to the problem.  We can do it.  WE THE PEOPLE can begin again, we can give rebirth to our nation, we can unite in solidarity and re-enthrone self-determination instead of government entitlements and endless bailouts. 

The war in heaven continues here. . .  and the question of agency is still on the table.

And always, always remember and never forget, "It is always morning in America!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

And Now Let the Spin Begin. . .

In search of something else this afternoon, I stumbled over this article that appeared in Yahoo Finance.  Then I found this composite chart illustrating the results of hundreds of polling data points that told a revealing story.  It says 50% oppose Obamacare, and 40% approve.  Had to admit, I've never heard of the author in the Yahoo story so I searched for her website.  "Somebody" no doubt paid her to write what follows, since she's a pen for hire.  I thought as I read it, WOW what's not to like?  Then I saw a pig fly by my window that had just sprouted wings (the image has not been altered in any way).  Now you be the judge:

10 Ways the New Healthcare Bill May Affect You

by Katie Adams  (from her webpage:  "For more than 18 years I have helped companies craft and communicate compelling messages to establish their brands and accelerate their business development success.  I add value to your team, leverage your marketing and communications dollars, and bring your project in on time, on budget and on message.")  In a year or so, let's see what kind of prophetess Ms. Adams turns out to be. . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, more commonly referred to as the "healthcare bill", has taken over a year to craft and has been a lightning rod for political debate because it effectively reshapes major facets of the country's healthcare industry.

Here are 10 things you need to know about how the new law may affect you:

1. Your Kids are Covered

Starting this year, if you have an adult child who cannot get health insurance from his or her employer and is to some degree dependent on you financially, your child can stay on your insurance policy until he or she is 26 years old. Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents' plan once they reach 19 or leave school.

2. You Can't be Dropped

Starting this fall, your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to "drop" you (cancel your policy) if you get sick. In 2009, "rescission" was revealed to be a relatively common cost-cutting practice by several insurance companies. The practice proved to be common enough to spur several lawsuits; for example, in 2008 and 2009, California's largest insurers were made to pay out more than $19 million in fines for dropping policyholders who fell ill.

3. You Can't be Denied Insurance

Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. Health insurance companies will also be barred from denying adults applying for coverage if they have a pre-existing condition, but not until 2014.

4. You Can Spend What You Need to

Prior to the new law, health insurance companies set a maximum limit on the monetary amount of benefits that a policyholder could receive. This meant that those who developed expensive or long-lasting medical conditions could run out of coverage. Starting this year, companies will be barred from instituting caps on coverage.

5. You Don't Have to Wait

If you currently have pre-existing conditions that have prevented you from being able to qualify for health insurance for at least six months you will have coverage options before 2014. Starting this fall, you will be able to purchase insurance through a state-run "high-risk pool", which will cap your personal out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. You will not be required to pay more than $5,950 of your own money for medical expenses; families will not have to pay any more than $11,900.

6. You Must be Insured

Under the new law starting in 2014, you will have to purchase health insurance or risk being fined. If your employer does not offer health insurance as a benefit or if you do not earn enough money to purchase a plan, you may get assistance from the government. The fines for not purchasing insurance will be levied according to a sliding scale based on income. Starting in 2014, the lowest fine would be $95 or 1% of a person's income (whichever is greater) and then increase to a high of $695 or 2.5% of an individual's taxable income by 2016. There will be a maximum cap on fines.

7. You'll Have More Options

Starting in 2014 (when you will be required by law to have health insurance), states will operate new insurance marketplaces - called "exchanges" - that will provide you with more options for buying an individual policy if you can't get, or afford, insurance from your workplace and you earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, millions of low- and middle-income families (earning up to $88,200 annually) will be able to qualify for financial assistance from the federal government to purchase insurance through their state exchange.

8. Flexible Spending Accounts Will Become Less Flexible

Three years from now, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) will have lower contribution limits - meaning you won't be able to have as much money deducted from your paycheck pre-tax and deposited into an FSA for medical expenses as is currently allowed. The new maximum amount allowed will be $2,500. In addition, fewer expenses will qualify for FSA spending. For example, you will no longer be able to use your FSA to help defray the cost of over-the-counter drugs.

9. If You Earn More, You'll Pay More

Starting in 2018, if your combined family income exceeds $250,000 you are going to be taking less money home each pay period. That's because you will have more money deducted from your paycheck to go toward increased Medicare payroll taxes. In addition to higher payroll taxes you will also have to pay 3.8% tax on any unearned income, which is currently tax-exempt.

10. Medicare May Cover More or Less of Your Expenses

Starting this year, if Medicare is your primary form of health insurance you will no longer have to pay for preventive care such as an annual physical, screenings for treatable conditions or routine laboratory work. In addition, you will get a $250 check from the federal government to help pay for prescription drugs currently not covered as a result of the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole".

However, if you are a high-income individual or couple (making more than $85,000 individually or $170,000 jointly), your prescription drug subsidy will be reduced. In addition, if you are one of the more than 10 million people currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you may be facing higher premiums because your insurance company's subsidy from the federal government is going to be dramatically reduced.


Over the next few months you will most likely receive information in the mail from your health insurance company about how the newly signed law will affect your coverage. Read the correspondence carefully and don't hesitate to ask questions about your policy; there may be new, more affordable options for you down the road.  (That's fantastic journalism, and that's the end of the article).

After reading, I thought I remembered some passing news story this week about companies that are already writing down charges against their balance sheets, so I came up with a few questions of my own:

I'm thinking we're witnessing one of the -- strike that -- THE BIGGEST redistribution of wealth in U.S. history -- strike that -- maybe the history of the world.  Is anyone else flinching besides me at the price tag?  I have no idea what's really in the bill, but apparently hired gun Katie Adams does or she's just writing what she's being fed. 

Price tag:  $1 Trillion, give or take a half a billion or so.  Nationalization of health care.  Taxation begins today to pay for it, but benefits don't start delivery until 2014 (it was the only way to "trick" the math).  Oh, and did we mention all of it done without one single bipartisan vote?  "This is what change looks like," said President Obama last week in celebration.  WOW, that's change we can believe in!

What comes next?  Is there a piper that must be paid for all this social re-engineering?  We'll know soon enough.  Fiscal restraint is only an outmoded and tired old conservative idea.

Here are some random thoughts that come to this simple mind:
Will it really cover more people who are currently uninsured -- that was the pitch. . . but will that really happen?  How many more?  50% more?  75% more -- all of them?

The number that was always bandied about during the debate dating back to the 2008 election was about 45 million uninsured people if memory serves me.  How many are going to be automatically enrolled under this new plan?  I seem to remember something called the Community Reinvestment Act positing that the banks should extend loans to EVERY American to buy a home -- it is the American dream to own a home, so let's go do it!  We all know how that worked out, or are we still deaf, dumb, blind and happy in not knowing?

Those who won't be covered under the grand theft -- strike that -- grand plan will probably be illegal aliens, but that's no problem either if we just change their status to "legal."  And why not?  If we can pass Obamacare, we can do that too while we're at it. 

I'm stupid, I know, but isn't there a cost component in there somewhere to do all that?  Just sayin'. . .  I never thought math was my strong suit, but will somebody please explain that to me?  Maybe some elitist White House staffer has the answer, but I know Robert Gibbs hasn't said much about it to date.  Just give us the blank check, Congress, and we'll bailout everybody who fails, and we'll insure them if they can't afford it!  Master stroke!

Here's what I'm wondering after AT&T announced this week that it's taking a $1 billion charge to its corporate balance sheet in anticipation of what it's going to cost them.  I'm sure somebody in the Obama administration is thinking that can't be good news, and will somebody just hit those corporate idiots upside the head?

And they weren't the only U.S. company to do their own tax reserve calculations.  I heard Caterpillar took a $100 million writedown, followed by Deere announcing a $150 million bite and then I noticed a little itty bitty AK Steel hit -- a mere $31 million.  Mind you, these are taxes their green eyeshade guys are saying will need to be paid under Obamacare.  When I was in college (yeah, it was a long time ago when numbers actually had to add up), the conventional wisdom in Economics 101 always was that corporations really don't pay taxes, consumers do.  Taxes just get passed along.  I guess in his Ivy League education, Mr. Obama must have tested out of the basic course.

What are the companies to do?  Don't think for a minute their benefits to their retirees will remain in tact.  Concessions to unions over retiree benefits is what drove General Motors over the edge.  

We will not long remember how narrow the House margin of passage for this monstrous social program was (it was only eight votes).  It will be soon forgotten if the spin rhetoric of Ms. Adams and others overtakes us.  Government-funded abortion, however, was always a sticking point in the proposed run up to the final vote, but even that was no problem for Mr. Obama and the historically "pro-choice" Roe v. Wade Democrats.  They blocked all funding in the final Obamacare bill, and lived to fight another day by "buying" (slap me) the eight votes needed from the holdout obstructionists.  So much for sticking to your guns on that one.

Watch for rationed care on whatever criteria that will yet emerge from the elitists -- whatever we say it is, it is because we say it is, morality aside. . . 

There have been studies done attempting to figure out the fiscal impacts of this bill.  Some suggest that a successful taxpayer earning $1 million per year will pay an extra $46,000.  Not bad -- that guy can afford it.  I learned there's a 10% surcharge tax now when you go to the tanning salon for a fake tan because it increases your risk of skin cancer.  No problem, what's another 10% on a tanning session.

But what's the real economic impact of the millionaire's extra $46,000 in tax?  That $1 million is really only $500,000 after-tax right now, so the $46,000 is really almost a 10% surcharge tax on the wealthy.  Still no big deal, you say?  It means our fat cat big spender has just lost some discretionary income to spend on big ticket items that actually create and sustain employment.  It's all so subtle, really -- strike that -- brilliant, but flat out deceptive when you put a pencil to it.

But I digress when I consider the plight of the wealthy under Obamacare.  After all, the grand and deeply caring social aim here, I think, is to subsidize the "poor."  What if you're a middle-class American (any of you left standing out there?).  Answer this multiple choice question:  Do you now think after this last week's events that your insurance costs are going to 1) go up; or 2) go down?  Well, if you answered "1" go up, no worries -- Obamacare, I am told, will offer subsidies to offset the increases in your premiums if you earn up to $88,000 per year.  Wait a minute, wasn't the whole plan supposed to lower costs?  Where do the subsidies come from?  I guess, once again, I'm just stupid.  Tell me, I pray thee.

If this plan is really going to be so great, wouldn't I just drop my current coverage and switch to the big government-run plan?  I think I'm on to something here.  If no insurance company can decline me, why not drop my current plan, pay the fine for dropping it (I think I heard $695 a year as a penalty) and go without insurance until something catastrophic happens to me?  Then when I get diagnosed with a life-threatening illness like cancer, I just get in line to buy because I can't be declined anymore for a pre-existing condition.  I think I'm beginning to like this Obama guy -- he's really smart after all.  If I pay out of pocket $12,000 year right now for coverage, and I don't get sick, I'm $11,000-plus ahead of the game, every year aren't I?  Yes, sir, those guys in Washington D.C. have it all figured out.

If I'm an employer, it makes ever more sense to me now.  My good honest hard-working employees are costing me way too much now under this current law that just passed (think AT&T, Catepillar and others).  Why don't I just let them buy insurance on their own now?  If it's costing me as their employer $12,000 per year per employee, I think I'll just pay the $3,000 per employee penalty and rack up $9,000 per employee in windfall profits.  It's going to put a smile on all the faces of my investors and shareholders.  Thanks you guys and gals in Congress -- I never knew you were so brilliant!  Should have thought about it years ago.  That's why I'm just a struggling businessman and you're all so smart back there.  Glad you're lookin' out for me here on Main Street.

So if Ms. Adams is right in her article above, the government is going to force insurers to keep their children up to age 26 under the parents' plans.  Kids already accustomed to their parents' largesse will be encouraged to stay at home even longer.  Brilliant!  Dependency is a wonderful attribute, right?

It is clear to me in these rantings that I am clearly an idiot, completely irrational, and not a very clear-headed thinker.  I would never fit in back there in Washington, 'cause I'm so stupid.  So I need your help.  Please tell me where I have gone astray.  Someone please help me. . .  oh, wait -- another pig just went flying by my window.  The picture has not been altered in any way, trust me. . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Obamacare Now the Law of the Land

It's official:  As I lamented in previous posts for over a year, the Democrats with all the votes needed in both houses of Congress have now made Obamacare (what is it anyway, does anybody really know?) the law of the land, and all the procedural parliamentarian votes in the aftermath have passed both houses of Congress. 

But never despair -- a sleeping giant has been awakened.

Yes it's disheartening to watch the Congress work its will in direct opposition to the majority of the elecorate, but it's never too late to correct our mistakes as I pointed out earlier.  What is most lamentable is that we have witnessed the unscrupulous tactics of this administration and the congressional leadership impose a vast socialist entitlement program across the board against the will of the people.  Healthcare in this country accounts for 18% of the total GNP. 

As we watched the kabuki play unfolding, as we listened to the pros and cons being debated, as our Congress argued over dozens of versions of the basic package, how could anyone keep score?  Do you know what's in the bill?  I don't even pretend to know.  I oppose it strictly on fiscal grounds in a time when America is roiling in $12 trillion in debt, a staggeringly high percentage now of the GNP.  Will our international creditors continue to write checks for our worthless paper?  Time will tell. 

The tragedy for Democrats this year is that they are blind to the rage that is brewing among the electorate.  That rage is being directed now at incumbents of both parties.  If Utah's caucus results are what we think they are, even Bob Bennett, once thought to be a reliable conservative, is now being eaten by his own.  It has nothing (or little) to do with his conservatism, as the national media would have you believe.  Rather, it has to do with his being an aged incumbent whose time is far spent in a year when incumbents are as popular as rocking chairs in a convention full of cats. 

There was little doubt in my mind that some form of Obamacare would pass.  I was never confident that the opposing forces could do anything but stand together in a toothless block and scream from the rafters.  In many ways, Congress has reaped and will yet reap in this current election cycle exactly what it has sown.  They sowed the wind, and now they will reap the whirlwind. 

Votes for the legislation were freely bought and sold in the public marketplace.  Don't worry, they were assured all along, the ends will justify the means.  We have an elitist view in the White House that this government by the people, for the people, and of the people has no clue what they need, so we will supply it for them.  We know better than the rest of you what's good for you.  Now we will wait and see.

Indeed, as feared, President Obama did prevail with healthcare reform.  Jim Matheson will pay a price in his own party here in Utah, but his popularity after his "no" vote rests today at a comfortable 68% among Utahns.  How ironic that Bennett trails badly in his party despite his vocal opposition to the bill.

Despite my dismay at the bill's passage, I was heartened by the groundswell of opposition raging in the hearts and minds of my little precinct's caucus the other night, and now sweeping throughout the land -- an awesome force whose intensity and resolve we had not seen in decades.  As difficult as it would be to maintain the high energy of this resistance through November and beyond, there was still plenty of reason to be euphoric for the moment about our prospects for a sea change in Washington in November.

Those who boldly declared they were "returning to Washington" after the caucuses the other night, are even today backing off their bold declaration of mounting a repeal movement.  Full repeal, they are now realizing, might not be feasible.

At best, this current Congress is quickly considering itself a lame duck Congress.  They have to know in their heart of hearts they are toast on both sides of the aisle.  Pelosi and Reid are paying an enormous price if their popularity numbers of 8% and 11% respectively can be believed.

And thus it begins -- the early caucus results in Utah will yet prove to be the early warning.  The tsunami will reach Washington D.C. in November with decisive sea-changing consequences.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Utah State Convention Balloting

I've had several phone calls and e-mails asking for more information about the balloting process at the upcoming Utah Republican Convention.

Here's the simple explanation, since so many are confused about how it might play out. 

At the convention, a first round of balloting will eliminate all the contestants but the top three vote getters.

The next round will eliminate one candidate.

In the third round, only the top two will compete. If any contestant in any of the rounds of balloting achieves 60 percent of the vote at any time, he or she becomes the de facto nominee; otherwise, the final two candidates will face each other in a primary.

I hope that clarifies.

The funny thing about the "morning after" calculus is that everyone is claiming victory.  Clearly, the big loser has to be Senator Bennett, based upon the uprising that has been widely reported in the social media reports.  The candidates are all customarily optimistic at this point, and as a newly-elected state delegate I expect to be lobbied heavily between now and the convention day. 

I will restate my position once again.  Don't bother getting in touch with me unless you are from the Mike Lee campaign.  If he falters, my precinct favors Tim Bridgewater then Cherilyn Eagar in that order, and I will not fail to express their wishes in my voting.  I am not impressed when people say they will go into the convention "with an open mind."  Those people are too easily swayed by the emotions of the moment, and having been there and done that in the past, I can assure the emotions are running high.

Senator Bennett, my friend, I wish you had made the decision to gracefully step aside and retire.  You are going to be 77 years old on election day (born September 18, 1933).  The New York Times reported today that even your own sister could not be seated as a state delegate from her precinct when she announced her support for you.  Your own polling data indicates you are running third behind "Anybody But Bennett," and "Undecided."  You are now dead last in the hearts and minds of your former constituents.  But you know what?  It's still not too late.  Please step down now and avoid the abject embarrassment that awaits you at the state convention.

But who am I?  I'm just a nobody who doesn't count in your delusional tilt with the windmills.  Come to think of it, that's exactly who you remind me of -- Don Quixote de la Mancha -- in pursuit of the "Impossible Dream." 

What a sad, sad spectre you have become.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A'Caucusing We Went

I went to my caucus tonight wearing my "I Like Mike" button.  The Mike Lee campaign never officially contacted me -- I simply acknowledged my support on their website. 

I volunteered to go to the caucus.  I wasn't recruited.  I was never button-holed into a heavy-handed commitment for support, I just followed a suggestion from a good and valued friend, Doug Holmes, to visit Mike's website and learn about his positions. 

I did.  To the Utah voters who read this page, I suggest you do the same.

Here is Mike Lee's website.  Click on the link.  Learn the positions of the man I sincerely hope becomes Utah's next Senator.

I love grassroots politics.  The caucus is the purest and simplest expression of free speech available anywhere in the world.  What a privilege it is to take a position and freely speak your mind.  I have an even greater respect after tonight about what it must mean to these candidates who seek to be elected by their peers. 

I went seeking to become our precinct's state delegate.  We got there early, and Patsy was asked to give the opening prayer, and I was asked to read the Utah Republican Party platform.  Click on the link and read it.  In this particular election year, as never before, those words were written and ratified at the 2009 state convention with almost prophetic insight. 

Each of us was emotional when we spoke.  We sense -- and I think we are not alone -- that there is more than party politics at stake in this election cycle and I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as an indispensible politician.  That is certainly true of Senator Bennett.

The county delegates were duly nominated and elected. 

Then it was time for the state delegate to be nominated.  When I was nominated by my dear wife, I was opposed by one other candidate who waffled and sounded uncommited, but was clearly leaning toward Bennett. 

The participants asked for a speech from each candidate to clarify our positions before the vote was taken.  There were 25 participants in our precinct.  Simple majority -- 13 votes -- needed to win.

Patsy warned me in advance to keep it general, keep my emotions in check, state clearly my loyalties to flag, Constitution, motherhood, apple pie and the little red schoolhouse, our long family history with both Wasatch and Summit Counties and so forth.  She was trying to keep the lid on the teapot from blowing its top.

But I blew it.  I opened my mouth.  The months of the buildup of my anger spilled out against Senator Bennett, who by the way, I have voted for three times in the past.  I was careful to state my respect for him and his family, but then I let loose with my anger over his advocacy of the ill-advised TARP vote that opened the floodgates for the subsequent orgy of bailout bills that followed, capped by the palpable anger one could sense in the room about what happened yesterday in the successful passage of the Obama health care reform bill. 

Bennett may not have had a hand in that House vote yesterday, but clearly he is being held accountable for his big spending habits by the voters in our precinct.

The faithful Republican heads in our meeting were all nodding up and down.  I was enflamed and passionate.  I couldn't help myself once I got going.  And when it was enough, and I sensed I had said perhaps too much, I shut up and sat down. 

However, I left no doubts in anyone's mind in our precinct exactly what they were getting out of their state delegate, if elected.

There was a simple majority of my fellow citizens in our little precinct who felt as I did.  I said simply, "If you agree with me, then vote for me because I have every intention of voting for Mike Lee at the state convention, and you all deserve to know the position of your delegate.  There is absolutely no chance that I will vote for Bob Bennett ever again."  I won. 

I have no idea how the meetings went in the thousands of Utah Republican caucuses tonight.  I cannot see into my crystal ball that forecasts with unerring accuracy what the future portends.  But I will say this -- I hope every other state delegate declared himself/herself as boldly and with as much passion and clarity as I did. 

If they did, then Senator Bennett will be retired at the state convention as a lame duck for the balance of his last term.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Obamacare Is Still a Bad Idea

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) is my Congressman.  I am one of many moderate Republicans who has gladly sent him back to Washington D.C. to represent us because I view him as a moderate Democrat, reasoned and measured -- a fiscal conservative, and "blue dog" Democrat if you prefer.

On the seminal issue of this election cycle, Obamacare, there really was no other choice for him politically.  To vote for the pending House bill would have meant political suicide in the district he represents.  Most of his constituents who have voted for him are just like me.  The Republicans in his district continue to support him as they have in the past.

He has waited until the last moment to weigh in with his opinion on the legislation, and his views continue to mirror mine.  Quoting from his statement yesterday:

"I am saddened that the yearlong debate on health reform has resulted in legislation that is too expensive, contains too many special deals, does not contain health care costs and will result in increases in health insurance premiums," he said.

"Therefore I will vote against the legislation," he added. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Sunday.

That leaves him among only a handful of moderate Democrats who are opposing his party and Democratic President Barack Obama. It may cause problems with his party, but it also may preserve his job in conservative Utah.

"I do think that a majority of people in my district have a lot of problems with this bill," he told the Deseret News. And, he said, "I heard from thousands and thousands of constituents on this."

So it seems there is at least one congressional district left in America where the will of the people, linked to rational political calculations has resulted in the correct outcome.  I was only one of the "thousands and thousands" who personally wrote to Matheson, and he has correctly restated my concerns in his final position. 

I had a feeling personally all the way through this sordid political theater performance that there was no way Matheson would risk offending his base.  He listened to his "thousands and thousands" of constituents and did what any reasoned, pragmatic and knowing politician would do -- he stuck with them on a crucial public vote to preserve his job. 

Why the rest of the Democrats can't see this issue the same way Matheson does is no mystery -- they either can't read the "tea leaves" in the angst of the voters or they simply don't care. 

Lee Davidson, the Deseret News political columnist who wrote yesterday's story adds, "Matheson said he didn't pay much attention to the pressure and said he kept repeating that he merely wanted to see and study the final bill before taking a position on it. When he studied the bill, he decided to oppose it."

In this particular political fray this is a very novel idea.  With all the ranting and raving, ask youself this, "How many who will cast a vote on this bill today have actually read the bill?"  I guarantee you, having watched this process on other legislation up close and personal, that most members of Congress in both houses will rely upon their staffs and their party leadership, especially with this bill, and will not personally read the bill.  Were they to do such a thing, as a rational intelligent human being independent of all other pressures that have been brought to bear upon them, the vast majority of them would reject it out of hand as Matheson has done.

So this day, on this one issue, Jim Matheson represents, and I'm grateful for that.

Business Week reported that Utah's Senator Hatch had raised his hand to remind everyone that today's vote is anything but a final victory for Obamacare on a point of order: 

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are “nuts” to think that Sunday’s vote on health-care legislation will resolve the issue.

Senate Republicans have enough votes on at least two points of order to alter the measure and send it back to the House for a second round of votes, Hatch said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.

“If those people think they’re only going to vote on this once, they’re nuts,” Hatch said as House Democratic leaders rounded up support before the scheduled March 21 vote on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

Hatch warned that the approach Democrats are using to pass the legislation in the House may be unconstitutional because the House and Senate aren’t voting on “exactly the same language.”

And on this point Hatch is exactly right -- forget all the victory speeches you will hear today.  This political kabuki play is far from being over yet. . .

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Utah Caucus Meetings

Tuesday, March 23, 2010, is political caucus night in Utah.  It's grassroots politics at the level where politics works best -- nearest the people who can exercise their Constitutional franchise to vote for the candidates of their choice.

Each party has caucus information on its state website.  You can determine which voter precinct you live in, and you can find the location of your meeting. 

Republicans go here

Democrats go here

The important thing is that we all decide now to go and participate with our precinct neighbors regardless of party.  I have determined to go to my precinct meeting this year to either be elected myself as a state delegate pledged to Mike Lee, or to support someone else who has the same position I do. 

That's what I'm interested in, but you can pick your own battles -- the important thing is that you choose to take action and not remain a disgruntled bystander.

This morning I was in line to have a safety inspection on my car so I could get it re-registered.  It seemed everyone in the waiting room was voicing an opinion about our current political process.  After listening to them wrangle for a few minutes, I dared to weigh in.  "How many of you (there were twenty people in the room) are going to your caucus meeting on Tuesday night?"  To a person -- all twenty -- no one even knew what a caucus meeting was.  That's the experience that prompts this post. 

At these meetings delegates to the respective political party state conventions will be elected.  Those delegates will in turn nominate their parties' candidates for the upcoming presidential mid-term elections in November. 

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representives are up for grabs every two years.  One-third of all the U.S. Senate seats are in the mix every two years. 

If you don't go to your caucus meeting and make your will known on Tuesday night, then you have no voice in what happens thereafter.  If you don't like the candidates available for the primary and then in turn the general election in November, and you don't attend your caucus meeting on Tuesday night, then you'd better just keep your mouth shut in November because by then it will be too late.

The caucus meeting is the fundamental voice of America at work.  It is the canary in the mine shaft that signals the will of the people to their elected officials.  This year in particular there is more at stake than ever before.  We are being held hostage by a political process in Washington D. C. that is increasingly ineffective and corrupt. 

Bob Bennett has been my candidate for all three of his elected terms -- totaling 18 years.  This year, however, my support has turned to his most logical replacement, Mike Lee.  I've cited all my reasons in a previous post back in January.

Whatever your persuasion or your motivation, please exercise your franchise as an American voter.  Attend your caucus meeting on Tuesday night -- it's America at its best when what you want most is change YOU can believe in, not what someone else tells you it should be. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ZION: Appendix B (Ten Keys to Understanding the Book of Isaiah)

Ten Keys to Understanding the Book of Isaiah

By Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

"Great Are the Words of Isaiah"

If our eternal salvation depends upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them - and who shall say such is not the case! - how shall we fare in that great day when with Nephi we shall stand before the pleasing bar of him who said: "Great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Ne. 23:1)?

To Laman and Lemuel, the words of Isaiah were as a sealed book. The older brothers of Nephi could read the words and understand the language written by Israel's great seer, but as for envisioning their true prophetic meaning, it was with them as though they read words written in an unknown tongue.

Commanded to Study Isaiah

The risen Lord commanded the Nephites and all the house of Israel, including us, and, for that matter, all the nations of the Gentiles, to "search... diligently... the words of Isaiah. For surely he spake," the Lord said, "as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." (3 Ne. 23:1-3.)

Laman and Lemuel are but prototypes of most of modern Christendom. They were almost totally unable to understand the difficult doctrines of this ancient prophet, and for their lack of spiritual discernment they found themselves on the downward path leading to everlasting destruction.

When father Lehi "spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord," they rebelled against his teachings and refused to "look unto the Lord," they rebelled against his teachings and refused to "look unto the Lord" to learn their true meaning. Asked by Nephi, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" to learn the true meaning of the prophetic utterances, they responded, "We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us."

Then Nephi quoted to them - in the language of the Lord God himself - the great promise and law whereby any man can come to know the true meaning of the revealed word: "If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you." (See 1 Ne. 15:1-11.)

Nephi said: "My soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah" (2 Ne. 25:5). Personally, I feel about Isaiah and his utterances the same way Nephi felt and think that if I expect to go where Nephi and Isaiah have gone, I had better speak their language, think their thoughts, know what they knew, believe and teach what they believed and taught, and live as they lived.

It just may be that my salvation (and yours also!) does in fact depend upon our ability to understand the writings of Isaiah as fully and truly as Nephi understood them.

For that matter, why should either Nephi or Isaiah know anything that is withheld from us? Does not that God who is no respecter of persons treat all his children alike? Has he not given us his promise and recited to us the terms and conditions of his law pursuant to which he will reveal to us what he has revealed to them?

If the Lord Jehovah revealed to Isaiah that "a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son," whose very name shall be "God is with us" (Isa. 7:14); if this "child" shall be "The mighty God, The everlasting Father," who shall reign "with judgment and with justice" forever (Isa. 9:6-9); if he is to "make his soul an offering for sin," and place his "grave with the wicked" (Isa. 53:9-10); if his redemptive promise to all men is: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise" (Isa. 26:19); if he shall gather Israel in the last days and bring "the ransomed of the Lord... to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads" (Isa. 35:10); if his people "shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion" (Isa. 52:8); if these and a great host of other glorious truths were known to Isaiah and Nephi, should they be hidden from us? Why should either of these prophets know what we do not know? Is not the Lord Jehovah our God also?

Isaiah Sometimes Hard to Understand

Let us freely acknowledge that many people find Isaiah hard to understand. His words are almost totally beyond the comprehension of those in the churches of the world. Nephi said, "Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand" (2 Ne. 25:1). Even in the true Church, among those who should be enlightened by the gift of the Holy Ghost, there are those who skip the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon as though they were part of a sealed book, which perhaps they are to them. If, as many suppose, Isaiah ranks with the most difficult of the prophets to understand, his words are also among the most important for us to know and ponder. Some Latter-day Saints have managed to open the seal and catch a glimpse of the prophetic wonders that came from his pen, but even among the Saints there is little more than a candle glow where this great treasure trove is concerned.

But the seeric vision of Isaiah need not be buried under a bushel; his prophetic words can and should shine brightly in the heart of every member of the Church. If there are those who truly desire to enlarge and perfect their knowledge of the plan of salvation and of the Lord's dealings with latter-day Israel - all in harmony with his command to search diligently the words of Isaiah (3 Ne. 23:1) - I can give them the key which opens the door to that flood of light and knowledge that flowed from the pen of that witness of Christ and his laws who in many respects was Israel's greatest prophet.

Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah

1. Gain an overall knowledge of the plan of salvation and of God's dealings with his earthly children. The book of Isaiah is not a definitive work that outlines and explains the doctrines of salvation, as do 2 Nephi and Moroni in the Book of Mormon, for instance. Rather, it is written to people who already know - among other things - that Jesus is the Lord through whose atoning blood salvation comes, and that faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and righteous works are essential to an inheritance in his Father's kingdom. To illustrate, it takes a prior knowledge of preexistence and the War in Heaven to recognize in Isaiah 14 the account of Lucifer and his host being cast down to earth without ever gaining mortal bodies.

2. Learn the position and destiny of the house of Israel in the Lord's eternal scheme of things. Isaiah's love and interests center in the chosen race. His most detailed and extensive prophecies portray the latter-day triumph and glory of Jacob's seed. He is above all else the prophet of the Restoration.

As foretold by all the holy prophets since the world began, the Lord's program calls for a restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21). That is, every truth, doctrine, power, priesthood, gift, grace, miracle, ordinance, and mighty work ever possessed or performed in any age of faith shall come again. The gospel enjoyed by Adam shall dwell in the hearts of Adam's descendants before and during the great millennial era. Israel - the Lord's chosen and favored people - shall once again possess the kingdom; they shall dwell again in all the lands of their inheritance. Even the earth shall return to its paradisiacal state, and the peace and perfection of Enoch's city shall dwell on the earth for a thousand years.

These are the things of which Isaiah wrote. Of all the ancient prophets, he is the one whose recorded words preserve for us the good news of the Restoration, of the gospel coming again, of the everlasting covenant once more being established, of the kingdom being restored to Israel, of the Lord's triumphant return, and of a reign of millennial splendor.

3. Know the chief doctrines about which Isaiah chose to write. His chief doctrinal contributions fall into seven categories: (a) restoration of the gospel in latter days through Joseph Smith, (b) latter-day gathering of Israel and her final triumph and glory, (c) coming forth of the Book of Mormon as a new witness for Christ and the total revolution it will eventually bring in the doctrinal understanding of men, (d) apostate conditions in the nations of the world in the latter days, (e) messianic prophecies relative to our Lord's first coming, (f) second coming of Christ and the millennial reign, and (g) historical data and prophetic utterances relative to his own day.

In all of this, once again, the emphasis is on the day of restoration and on the past, present, and future gathering of Israel.

It is our habit in the Church - a habit born of slovenly study and a limited perspective - to think of the restoration of the gospel as a past event and of the gathering of Israel as one that, though still in process is in large measure accomplished. It is true that we have the fulness of the everlasting gospel in the sense that we have those doctrines, priesthoods, and keys which enable us to gain the fulness of reward in our Father's kingdom. It is also true that a remnant of Israel has been gathered; that a few of Ephraim and Manasseh (and some others) have come into the Church and been restored to the knowledge of their Redeemer.

But the restoration of the wondrous truths known to Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham has scarcely commenced. The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is yet to be translated. All things are not to be revealed anew until the Lord comes. The greatness of the era of restoration is yet ahead. And as to Israel herself, her destiny is millennial; the glorious day when "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High" (Dan. 7:27) is yet ahead. We are now making a beginning, but the transcendent glories and wonders to be revealed are for the future. Much of what Isaiah — prophet of the Restoration — has to say is yet to be fulfilled.

Isaiah is everywhere known as the messianic prophet because of the abundance, beauty, and perfection of his prophetic utterances foretelling the first coming of our Lord. And truly such he is. No Old World prophet whose inspired sayings have come down to us can compare with him in this respect. Moreover, the first coming of the Messiah is past, and so even those among us who are not overly endowed with spiritual insight can look back and see in the birth, ministry, and death of our Lord the fulfillment of Isaiah's forecasts.

But if we are to truly comprehend the writings of Isaiah, we cannot overstate or overstress the plain, blunt reality that he is in fact the prophet of the Restoration, the mighty seer of Jacob's seed who foresaw our day and who encouraged our Israelite fathers, in their spiritually weary and disconsolate state, with assurances of glory and triumph ahead for those of their descendants who would return to the Lord in the last days and at that time serve him in truth and righteousness.

4. Use the Book of Mormon. In the book of Isaiah, as recorded in the King James Version of the Bible, there are 66 chapters composed of 1,292 verses. Isaiah's writings, in an even more perfect form than found in our Bible, were preserved on the brass plates, and from this source the Nephite prophets quoted 414 verses and paraphrased at least another 34. (In a half a dozen or so instances duplicate verses are quoted or paraphrased.) In other words, one-third of the book of Isaiah (32 percent, to be exact) is quoted in the Book of Mormon and about another 3 percent is paraphrased.

And the Book of Mormon prophets — note this carefully and let its significance dawn upon you — the Book of Mormon prophets interpreted the passages they used, with the result that this volume of latter-day scripture becomes the witness for and the revealer of the truths of this chief book of Old Testament prophecies. The Book of Mormon is the world's greatest commentary on the book of Isaiah.

And may I be so bold as to affirm that no one, absolutely no one, in this age and dispensation has or does or can understand the writings of Isaiah until he first learns and believes what God has revealed by the mouths of his Nephite witnesses as these truths are found in that volume of holy writ of which he himself swore this oath: "As your Lord and your God liveth it is true" (D&C 17:6). As Paul would have said, "Because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself" (Heb. 6:13), saying in his own name that the Book of Mormon, and therefore the writings of Isaiah recorded therein, are his own mind and will and voice. The Saints of God know thereby that the sectarian speculations relative to Deutero-Isaiah and others being partial authors of the book of Isaiah are like the rest of the vagaries to which the intellectuals in and out of the Church give their misplaced allegiance.

5. Use latter-day revelation. The Lord by direct revelation has also taken occasion in our day to interpret, approve, clarify, and enlarge upon the writings of Isaiah.

When Moroni came to Joseph Smith on 21 September 1823, that holy messenger "quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled" (JS-H 1:40). Section 113 in the Doctrine and Covenants contains revealed interpretations of verses in chapters 11 and 52 of Isaiah. Section 101 holds the key to an understanding of chapter 65 of the ancient prophet's writings, while chapters 35, 51, 63, and 64 are opened plainly to our view because of what the Lord has to say in section 133. As reference to the footnotes in the Doctrine and Covenants will show, there are around one hundred instances in which latter-day revelation specifically quotes, paraphrases, or interprets language used by Isaiah to convey those impressions of the Holy Spirit born in upon his soul some twenty-five hundred years before.

There are also, of course, numerous allusions to and explanations of the great seer's words in the sermons of Joseph Smith and the other inspired teachers of righteousness of this dispensation. So often it takes only a prophetically uttered statement, revealing the age or place or subject involved in a particular passage in the writings of any prophet, to cause the whole passage and all related ones to shine forth with their true meaning and import.

It truly takes revelation to understand revelation, and what is more natural than to find the Lord Jehovah, who revealed his truths anciently, revealing the same eternal verities today and so tying his ancient and modern words together that we may be blessed by our knowledge of what he has said in all ages.

6. Learn how the New Testament interprets Isaiah. Isaiah is a prophet's prophet; his words live in the hearts of those who themselves are authoring holy writ. He is quoted at least fifty-seven times in the New Testament. Paul is his chief disciple, calling upon his word some twenty times in his various epistles. Peter uses him as authority in seven instances. He is also quoted seven times in Matthew, five times each in Mark, Luke, and Acts, and four times in both John and Revelation. Some of these quotations are duplicates, some are messianic in nature, and all establish the revealed meaning of the original writing.

7. Study Isaiah in its Old Testament context. Other Old Testament prophets preached the same doctrines and held out the same hopes to Israel that were the burden of Isaiah's own expressions. To know what Isaiah meant, it is essential to know what his fellow prophets had to say in like circumstances and on the same matters. For instance, Isaiah 2:2-4 is quoted in Micah 4:1-3. After Isaiah gives this great prophecy about all nations flowing to the temple built by gathered Israel in the latter days, he describes certain millennial events that will follow this gathering. Micah does the same thing in principle, except that his list of millennial events refers to other matters and thus enlarges our understanding of the matter. And so that we shall be sure of these things, the risen Lord quotes from chapters 4 and 5 of Micah, as will be seen by references to 3 Nephi, chapters 20 and 21.

8. Learn the manner of prophesying used among the Jews in Isaiah's day. One of the reasons many of the Nephites did not understand the words of Isaiah was that they did not know "concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews" (2 Ne. 25:1 ). And so it is with all Christendom, plus many Latter-day Saints.

Nephi chose to couch his prophetic utterances in plain and simple declarations. But among his fellow Hebrew prophets it was not always appropriate so to do. Because of the wickedness of the people, Isaiah and others often spoke in figures, using types and shadows to illustrate their points. Their messages were, in effect, hidden in parables. (2 Ne. 25:1-8.)

For instance, the virgin birth prophecy is dropped into the midst of a recitation of local historical occurrences so that to the spiritually untutored it could be interpreted as some ancient and unknown happening that had no relationship to the birth of the Lord Jehovah into mortality some seven hundred years later (Isa. 7). Similarly, many Chapters dealing with latter-day apostasy and the second coming of Christ are written relative to ancient nations whose destruction was but a symbol, a type, and shadow of that which would fall upon all nations when the great and dreadful day of the Lord finally came. Chapters 13 and 14 are an example of this. Once we learn this system and use the interpretive keys found in the Book of Mormon and through latter-day revelation, we soon find the Isaiah passages unfolding to our view.

9. Have the spirit of prophecy. In the final analysis there is no way, absolutely none, to understand any scripture except to have the same spirit of prophecy that rested upon the one who uttered the truth in its original form. Scripture comes from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. It does not originate with man. It means only what the Holy Ghost thinks it means. To interpret it, we must be enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21). It takes a prophet to understand a prophet, and every faithful member of the Church should have "the testimony of Jesus" which "is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10). "The words of Isaiah," Nephi said, "... are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy" (2 Ne. 25:4). This is the sum and substance of the whole matter and an end to all controversy where discovering the mind and will of the Lord is concerned.

10. Devote yourself to hard, conscientious study. Read, ponder, and pray — verse by verse, thought by thought, passage by passage, chapter by chapter! As Isaiah himself asks: "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?" His answer: "Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." (Isa. 28:9-10).

Let us then glance hastily through the sixty-six chapters that comprise the writings of this man, who according to tradition was sawn asunder for the testimony of Jesus which was his, and outline enough to guide us in a more detailed analysis.

Keys to the Interpretation of Isaiah

Chapters          Events

1      Apostasy and rebellion in ancient Israel; call to repentance; promise of restoration and then of the destruction of the wicked.

2-14      Quoted by Nephi in 2 Ne. 12-24. General interpretation of 2 Nephi 11, 19, 25, 26.

2      2 Nephi 12. Gathering of Israel to the temple in our day; latter-day state of Israel; millennial conditions and second coming of Christ. Micah 4 and 5; 3 Nephi 20 and 21.

3      2 Nephi 13. Status of Israel in her scattered and apostate condition before the Second Coming.

4      2 Nephi 14. Millennial.

5      2 Nephi 15. Apostasy and scattering of Israel; her dire state; restoration and gathering.

6      2 Nephi 16. Isaiah's vision and call. Verses 9 and 10 are messianic.

7      2 Nephi 17. Local history except verses 10-16, which are messianic. 2 Nephi 11.

8      2 Nephi 18. Local wars and history; counsel on identifying true religion. Verses 13-17 are messianic.

9-10      2 Nephi 19-20. Local history: destruction of wicked Israel by Assyrians to typify destruction of all wicked nations at Second Coming. 9:1-7 is messianic.

11      2 Nephi 21. Restoration; gathering of Israel; millennial era. JS-H 1:40; D&C 101:26; 113:1-6. Verses 1-5 are messianic and apply also to the Second Coming. 2 Nephi 30:9-15.

12      2 Nephi 22. Millennial.

13      2 Nephi 23. Overthrow of Babylon typifying Second Coming. D&C 29 and 45.

14      2 Nephi 24. Millennial gathering of Israel; fall of Lucifer in War in Heaven; destruction preceding Second Coming.

15-17      Local prophecies and history; fate of those who oppose Israel in day of restoration. 16:4-5 is messianic.

18      Restoration; gathering of Israel; sending of missionaries from America.

19      Local; salvation for Egypt in day of restoration.

20      Local.

21-22      Local, but typifying Second Coming. 22:21-25 is messianic.

23      Local.

24      Latter-day apostasy and Second Coming. D&C 1.

25      Second Coming. Verse 8 is also messianic.

26      Second Coming; Resurrection; Millennium.

27      Millennial triumph of Israel. 308

28      Desolations incident to Second Coming. Verse 16 is messianic.

29      2 Nephi 26:14-20, 27. Nephites, last days, Book of Mormon, and restoration. This Book of Mormon account is one of the best illustrations of an inspired interpretation of a chapter that is difficult to understand.

30      Israel, rebellious and worldly, to be saved in day of restoration; apostasy, restoration, and resultant blessings; Second Coming.

31      The world vs. the Second Coming.

32      Apostasy of Israel until the restoration. Verse 1-4 are messianic.

33      Apostasy followed by restoration.

34      Second Coming and attendant desolations. D&C 1 and 133

35      Restoration; gathering; Second Coming. D&C 133.

36-39      Local history of inspiration and beauty.

40      Second Coming. Verses 1-11 are messianic.

41      God reasons with Israel, ancient and modern, and speaks of the era of restoration. Verse 27 is messianic.

42      Verses 1-8 and 16 are messianic; the balance of the chapter praises God and bemoans Israel's troubles.

43-44      Restoration and gathering.

45      Israel to be gathered and saved; salvation is in Christ. Verses 20-25 are messianic.

46      Idols vs. true God, both anciently and now.

47      Babylon, symbol of our modern world.

48-49      1 Nephi 20; 21. Scattering and gathering of Israel. 1 Nephi 22; 2 Nephi 6.

50-51      2 Nephi 7; 8. Scattering, gathering, restoration, Second Coming. 2 Nephi 9:1-3; 10. 50:5-6 is messianic.

52      Restoration and gathering. Mosiah 12:20-25; 15:13-18; 3 Nephi 16, 20, 21; Moroni 10:30-31; D&C 113:7-10. Verses 13-15 are messianic.

53      Mosiah 14. Probably the greatest single Old Testament messianic prophecy. Mosiah 15-16.

54      Restoration and gathering; millennial. 3 Nephi 22; 23:1-6, 14.

55-62      Apostasy; restoration; gathering; glory of latter-day Zion. 61:1-3 is messianic.

63-64      Second Coming. D&C 133.

65      Israel and false religionists in latter days; Millennium. D&C 101:22-38.

66      Restoration and Second Coming.

For our purposes now, two things only need to be added to our recitations relative to Isaiah the seer, Isaiah the prophet of the Restoration, Isaiah the messianic prophet:

1. Scriptural understanding and great insight relative to the doctrines of salvation are valuable only insofar as they change and perfect the lives of men, only insofar as they live in the hearts of those who know them; and

2. What Isaiah wrote is true; he was God's mouthpiece in his time and season; the glories and wonders he promised for our day will surely come to pass; and if we are true and faithful we will participate in them, whether in life or in death. This is my witness.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

ZION: Appendix A ("We Will Still Weep for Zion")

Approaching Zion, by Hugh Nibley
Chapter Twelve:  "We Will Still Weep for Zion" (A revised transcript of a talk given in 1984).

A new Lamentation Literature is born. Here is the standard scenario: "I am a young, hard-working Latter-day Saint; six months ago I was well on the way to financial independence, following the admonitions of my elders. Today I am broke, and my children lack necessities. What went wrong?" Maybe the following can explain some things.

Breaking Away

In every dispensation of the gospel, the Lord has insisted on segregating his covenant people from the rest of the world: if they were not ready to "come out of her, [O] my people" (Revelation 18:4) willingly, he saw to it that the world was more than willing to persecute and expel them.

Two ways were placed before Adam, to see which one he would follow. Cain followed the one; Abel, and after him, Seth, the other. But soon Seth's posterity drifted over to the camp of Cain. Things being very bad, Enoch, the supermissionary, was sent out and was able "in [the] process of time" (Moses 7:21) to draw many after him into his city of Zion, which was then totally segregated from the rest of the world, pending the world's destruction.

After the Flood, things went bad again, so that the call to Abraham was lech lecha — get out of here! And he kept moving all his days, forming his own society as he went, initiating all his followers into a special covenant with God.

The law of Moses insists before all else that the Chosen People preserve their aloofness from the world by constant purification and instruction: the people must be qadosh, "sanctified," both words having the basic meaning of "cut off," "separated." God has always given his people the same choice of either living up to the covenants made with him or being in Satan's power; there is no middle ground (Moses 4:4). True, we spend this time of probation in a no-man's-land between the two camps of salvation and damnation, but at every moment of the day and night we must be moving toward the one or the other. Progressive testing takes place along the way in either direction; the same tests in every dispensation and generation mark the progress of the people of God.

(1) Do you, first of all, agree to do things his way rather than your way — to follow the law of God? (2) If so, will you be obedient to him, no matter what he asks of you? (3) Will you, specifically, be willing to sacrifice anything he asks you for? (4) Will you at all times behave morally and soberly? (5) Finally, if God asks you to part with your worldly possessions by consecrating them all to his work, will you give his own back to him to be distributed as he sees fit, not as you think wise?

That last test has been by far the hardest of all, and few indeed have chosen that strait and narrow way. The rich young man was careful and correct in observing every point of the law — up to that one; but that was too much for him, and the Savior, who refused to compromise or make a deal, could only send him off sorrowing, observing to the apostles that passing that test was so difficult to those possessing the things of the world that only a special dispensation from God could get them by.

Like the people of Lehi and the primitive Christians, the Latter-day Saints were asked and forced to make a clean break with the world — "the world" meaning explicitly the world's economy.

The first commandment given to the Saints in this last dispensation, delivered at Harmony, Pennsylvania, in April of 1829, before the formal incorporation of the Church, was an ominous warning: "Seek not for riches but for wisdom" (D&C 6:7) — all in one brief mandate that does not allow compromise. Why start out on such a negative note? The Lord knew well that the great obstacle to the work would be what it always had been in the past. The warning is repeated throughout the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon again and again. The positive and negative are here side by side and back to back, making it clear, as the scriptures often do, that the two quests are mutually exclusive — you cannot go after both, you cannot serve both God and Mammon, even if you should be foolish enough to try.

The Reluctant Saints

A year later the Saints were in Kirtland, and being warned again: "They also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness" (D&C 68:31). Those who seek not the eternal riches but are greedy for the other riches are here called "idlers" in the Lord's vineyard; the laborers are those who "labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish"! (2 Nephi 26:31).

At the next General Conference (1831), the law of consecration was laid down clearly and explicitly (D&C 82), with some anticipation of strong resistance (D&C 82:21). The Lord gave them his own special plan for his own people, by which "the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world" (D&C 78:14). The whole thing, in fact, was to be under celestial supervision, alien to the ways of the world: "And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself" (D&C 105:5). The Saints were warned at length against interpreting the invitation to independence as a franchise to individuals for seeking private gain and thereby endowing the church with independence (D&C 78), a bit of sophistry that soon became and ever remained very popular.

In the October Conference of 1831, before the Church was a year old, the Prophet had to remind them "that God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the Church, . . . and except the Church receive the fulness of the Scriptures . . . they would yet fail." Covetousness, the desire to be rich, was the one thing that could wreck the whole program. 1 Properly impressed, "the conference voted that they prize the revelations to be worth to the Church the riches of the whole earth, speaking temporally." 2

They were warned by the example of the saints of old: "Christ . . . proposed to make a covenant with them (the Jews), but they rejected Him and His proposals. . . . The Gentiles received the covenant, . . . but the Gentiles have not continued . . . but have departed from the faith. . . . [They] have become high-minded, and have not feared; therefore, but few of them will be gathered." 3 And now it was their turn, for they were in the same danger: "Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed. . . . Hear the warning voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest." 4 Self-justification, that was the danger — the exhilarating exercise of explaining why my ways are God's ways after all. "Intemperance, immorality, extravagance, pride, blindness of heart, idolatry, the loss of natural affection; the love of this world, and indifference toward the things of eternity [are] increasing among those [Latter-day Saints] who profess a belief in the religion of heaven." 5 Even the Elders in high positions gave the prophet a bad time: "He said he had been trampled under foot by aspiring Elders, for all were infected with that spirit." 6 What spirit? That of a business-boom in Kirtland. By 1834 the plan was given up (D&C 104:47), "the covenants being broken through transgression, by covetousness and feigned words" (D&C 104:52) — that is, greed and hypocrisy, that pious self-justification in which the covetous are so adept.

The Way of the World

The opening of frontier lands offered fierce temptation. Joseph Smith wrote,

The spirit of speculation in lands and property of all kinds, which was so prevalent throughout the whole nation, was taking deep root in the Church. As the fruits of this spirit, evil surmisings, fault finding, disunion, dissension, and apostasy followed in quick succession, and it seemed as though all the powers of earth and hell were combining their influence in an especial manner to overthrow the Church at once, and make a final end. . . . The enemy abroad, and apostates in our midst, united in their schemes, flour and provisions were turned towards other markets, and many became disaffected toward me as though I were the sole cause of those very evils I was most strenuously striving against. 7

In Kirtland, many of the leading brethren had given their time and talent to speculation and were absorbed in schemes detrimental to their religious standing, and quite contrary to the counsel of the Prophet. Speculations brought on jealousies and hatreds, and those evil attributes manifested themselves toward Joseph who sought so diligently to suppress them. Prominent men — men who had shown the highest degree of loyalty to the Prophet — became disaffected. Their financial speculations brought on a spirit of self-sufficiency, and that spirit made them wise in their own conceit. The affairs of the Church were put to the test of "wisdom" — wisdom as they understood it. Such wisdom, however, was undermining their integrity to the Church. 8

As Brigham Young often noted, men who considered themselves sound, practical businessmen did not approve of the Prophet's unwise fiscal policies. "Joseph . . . mourned because of unbelief and treachery among many who had embraced the gospel. He feared lest few in Kirtland should remain worthy to receive an inheritance." 9

"Warren Parrish . . . was what is termed a smart man [businessman], and through his smartness, which was distorted by ambition, envy, and bitterness, he turned against Joseph and the Church. . . . Apostasy and rebellion were rampant at Kirtland. . . . A scurrilous letter sent by Warren Parrish to the postmaster at Vinal Haven aroused a strong opposition." 10

Heber C. Kimball tells how, returning from his mission to the East,

we were very much grieved on our arrival in Kirtland, to see the spirit of speculation that was prevailing in the Church. Trade and traffic seemed to engross the time and attention of the Saints. When we left Kirtland a city lot was worth about $150; but on our return, to our astonishment, the same lot was said to be worth from $500 to $1000. . . . In fact everything in the place seemed to be moving in great prosperity, and all seemed determined to become rich. . . . This appearance of prosperity led many of the Saints to believe that the time had arrived for the Lord to enrich them with the treasures of the earth, and believing so, it stimulated them to great exertions. 11

This was the very self-justification against which they had been warned in the beginning: it was time to realize a cash return on hard work and tithing.

Then came the crash of 1837, brought on by those same shrewd, hardheaded businessmen. "During this time," President Kimball recalled, "I had many days of sorrow and mourning, for my heart sickened to see the awful extent that things were getting to." 12 Many apostatized and "also entered into combinations to obtain wealth by fraud and every means that was evil." 13 Later, Kimball returned to Kirtland again after a mission to England: "The Church had suffered terribly from the ravages of apostasy." Looking back over many years, he recalled that "the Ohio mobbings, the Missouri persecutions, the martyrdom, the exodus, nor all that Zion's cause has suffered since, have imperiled it half so much as when mammon and the love of God strove for supremacy in the hearts of His people." 14 Note that they were torn between God and Mammon, and "no man can serve both!"

At the Center Stake

So Kirtland ended in disaster, and the Saints moved on, chastened and repentant, to Jackson County, where they sought "a counterpart of the Zion of Enoch." 15 As the Prophet viewed the exodus, he rejoiced in a new hope: "See the church of the LDS, selling all that they have, and gathering themselves together . . . that they may be together and bear each other's afflictions in the day of calamity." In the famous rescue mission, "some of the brethren had considerable and others had little or none, yet all became equal." This was the Prophet's desire, and so it was "in the day of calamity." But in the day of prosperity? As the new boomtown of Far West was building, the Prophet stood on the framework of a schoolhouse under construction and made some significant observations and a disturbing prophecy:

Brethren, we are gathering to this buitiful land, to build up "Zion." . . . But since I have been here I perseive the spirit of selfishness, Covetousness, exists in the hearts of the Saints. . . . Here are those who begin to spread out buying up all the land they are able to do, to the exclusion of the poorer ones who are not so much blessed with this worlds goods, thinking to ley foundation for themselves only, looking to their own individual familys and those who are to follow them. . . . Now I want to tell you that Zion cannot be built up in eny such way. . . . I see signs put out, Beer signs, speculative schemes are being introduced this is the ways of the world — Babylon indeed, and I tell you in the name of the God of Israel, if thare is not repentance . . . and a turning from such ungodlyness, covetousness, and self will [in other words, "independence"] you will be broken up and scattered from this choice land to the four winds of Heaven [sic]. 16

Did the people hearken to that voice? As ever, the financial independence "of their own individual families" came first. Brigham Young can tell us how it was:

Said the Lord to Joseph, "See if they will give their farms to me." What was the result? They would not do it, though it was one of the plainest things in the world. No revelation that was ever given is more easy of comprehension than that on the law of consecration. . . . Yet, when the Lord spoke to Joseph, instructing him to counsel the people to consecrate their possessions, and deed them over to the Church in a covenant that cannot be broken, would the people listen to it? No, but they began to find out that they were mistaken, and had only acknowledged with their mouths that the things which they possessed were the Lord's. [Feigned words were still covering up their covetousness.] I wish to see the people acknowledge the principle of consecration in their works, as well as in their prayers. The Lord makes them well by His power, through the ordinances of His house, but will they consecrate? No. They say, "It is mine, and I will have it myself." There is the treasure, and the heart is with it. 17

The thing to note here especially is that no one can evade the law of consecration on the grounds that it is not clear; still less are we free to give it our own "clarification," identifying consecration with tithing, gifts to the Church, and so on. We should all know by now that there is no limit to the plasticity, adaptability, contrivance, and manipulation of economic theory; as Tertullian says, "Oh, what a powerful argumentatrix is human ignorance!" 18

There is another revelation, . . . stating that it is the duty of all people who go to Zion to consecrate all their property to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . . It was one of the first commandments or revelations given to this people after they had the privilege of organizing themselves as a Church, as a body, as the kingdom of God on the earth. I observed then, and I now think, that it will be one of the last revelations which the people will receive into their hearts and understandings, of their own free will and choice, and esteem it as a pleasure, a privilege, and a blessing unto them to observe and keep most holy. 19

President Young explains how they got around ignoring the highest and clearest of revelations:

When the revelation which I have read was given in 1838, I was present. . . . The brethren wished me to go among the Churches, and find out what surplus property the people had, with which to forward the building of the Temple we were commencing at Far West. I accordingly went from place to place through the country. Before I started, I asked brother Joseph, "Who shall be the judge of what is surplus property?" Said he, "Let them be the judges themselves, for I care not if they do not give a single dime." 20

(As in Israel, the amount of the free-will offering was left entirely up to the giver, since it was he who was being tested. The offering was required but the amount was up to him.) The results, Brigham Young reports of his journey, were laughable — nobody had any surplus property! One "would say, 'I have got so many hundred acres of land, and I have got so many boys, and I want each one of them to have eighty acres, therefore this is not surplus property.' . . . I would go on to the next one, and he would have more land and cattle than he could make use of to advantage" and he would say, "We have no children, but our prospects are good, and we think we shall have a family of children, and if we do, we want to give them eighty acres of land each; we have no surplus property." No matter how well-to-do, the Saints would insist, "I have use for everything I have got," therefore no surplus. There were exceptions, and once in a while you would find a man who had a cow which he considered surplus, but generally she was of the class that would kick a person's hat off, or eyes out, or the wolves had eaten off her teats. [Or] you would once in a while find a man who had a horse that he considered surplus, but . . . he had the ringbone, was broken-winded, spavined in both legs, had the pole evil at one end of the neck and a fistula at the other, and both knees sprung. . . . They would come to me and say, "Brother Brigham, . . . I want to raise fifty dollars on this horse [today it would be a car], and the balance I am willing to turn in on tithing. If you will pay me twenty dollars in money, ten in store pay, and so much on another man's tithing, and so much on my own, you shall have the horse for eighty dollars;" when I could get as good a one for forty. 21

In the law of Moses the giving of an offering in such meanness of spirit is called "an abomination unto the Lord" (Deuteronomy 25:16).

Some rejected the commandment outright: "At Far West, in April, 1838, Presidents Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were excommunicated from the Church." This was "for urging vexatious law-suits against the brethren, . . . [each] leaving his calling in which God had appointed him by revelation, for the sake of filthy lucre, and turning to the practice of law, disgracing the Church by being connected in the bogus business, . . . forsaking the cause of God, and returning to the beggarly elements of the world." 22 Business and law were the world's keys to success. In 1838 at Far West, "when these troops surrounded us, . . . the first persons that I knew were men who had once professed to be beloved brethren, and they were the men who piloted these mobs into our city, namely William M'Lellin & Lyman E. Johnson, two of the twelve; John Whitmer, and David Whitmer, . . . William W. Phelps and scores of others." 23 And it was all for business.

And so the prophecy of the schoolhouse was fulfilled quickly and thoroughly, as the Saints were driven from their exciting new boomtown in the worst persecution in their history. "Could our brethren stay in Jackson County, Missouri?" Brigham Young asked a later conference. "No, No. Why? They had not learned 'a' concerning Zion; and we have been traveling now forty-two years, and have we learned our a, b, c? . . . I will say, scarcely. Have we seen it as a people?" 24

Nauvoo the Bonanza

And so we move on to Nauvoo, where the prophet began by changing the town's name of Commerce to "Nauvoo the Beautiful" — a significant shift of emphasis — and followed up by warning the Saints more strenuously than ever against seeking personal financial independence as a milestone on the Way of Salvation. He laid the strongest emphasis on the importance of distinguishing the two kinds of independence: "If there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, . . . they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the Holy Spirit." 25 (The reader is referred to such recent gems by Mormon authors as How to Prosper during the Coming Bad Years and Survive and Win in the Inflationary Eighties.)

"Organization of large bodies upon common stock principles . . . opens such a dreadful field for the avaricious, the indolent, and the corrupt hearted to prey upon the innocent and virtuous and honest. . . . [They are] aspiring men . . . who had not the substance of godliness about them." 26 But they do make money, and there is prophetic portent for the future in those ominous words: "Every man who is afraid, covetous &c. will be taken in a snare," 27 for fear and covetousness are the twin offspring of insecurity. To be ambitious and competitive have been the natural tendencies in the New World: "Now, in this world, man-kind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another. . . . Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell." 28 To counter that, the Prophet assures us that "the greatest temporal and spiritual blessings which always come from faithfulness and concerted effort, never attended individual exertion or enterprise," 29 and that "the advancement of the cause of God and the building up of Zion is as much one man's business as another's. . . . Party feelings, separate interests, exclusive designs should be lost sight of in the one common cause, in the interest of the whole." 30 The Saints had entered an order in which even the idealism of Free Masonry was superseded by a more perfect fraternity found in the vows and covenants which the endowment in the House of God afforded members of the Church. Besides, the Saints learned that they must surrender worldly affiliations, since the world was opposed to the mission of Joseph Smith and his followers. . . . The Church, however, rests upon the rock of revelation and must follow divine guidance rather than precedence [and the laws of the marketplace.]" 31

The sanctity of their calling became a franchise for shenanigans among those brethren in Nauvoo who quickly caught on to the now familiar trick of promoting private business (and later political) interests, with promises of apocalyptic profits, by identifying them with the Church: "Thus we find that there have been frauds and secret abominations and evil works of darkness going on, leading the minds of the weak and unwary [most Latter-day Saints have always been unsuspecting and naive] into confusion and distraction, and all the time palming it off upon the Presidency." 32 It was Far West all over again. On June 18, 1842, in a grove near the Nauvoo Temple, Elder Woodruff says, "Joseph, the prophet, arose and spoke in great plainness upon the corruption and wickedness of John C. Bennett. He also prophesied that if the merchants of the city and the rich did not open their hearts and contribute to the poor they would be cursed by the hand of God and cut off from the land of the living." . . . All efforts to stand upon a common ground with the citizens generally of Nauvoo were, however, unavailing." 33 Why? Because, wrote Wilfred Woodruff, who lived through it all, "The people in those days, . . . like Israel of old associated certain worldly successes with their ideas of right, and misfortunes with their ideas of wrong." 34 That, of course, would make them morally obligated to get rich — which is what President Woodruff calls sophistry when he notes that "the fear of the enemy was less trying to him [Joseph Smith] than the folly of many of his brethren who were swayed by the spirit of the age and the peculiar sophistries of those times. 35

That was the greater danger: "There were those who were ready to listen to the sophistries and cunning arguments of the hypocrite and the Pharisee in their midst [Nauvoo]," 36 and this they had often done elsewhere in the history of the Church. Sophistry again: Under God's plan there could be no compromise. "Any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too. But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. . . . Even the Saints are slow to understand." 37

On the eve of the expulsion from Nauvoo, Brigham Young wrote that "the Saints were becoming slothful and covetous, and would spend their means upon fine houses for themselves before they would put it into a House of the Lord." 38 The result we all know, though we tend to overlook the cause: "Through the selfishness of some, which is idolatry, through their covetousness, which is the same, and the lustful desire of their minds, they were cast out and driven from their homes." 39

Stout Resistance

The next settlement was on the plains, and Brigham Young recalled:

While we were in Winter Quarters, the Lord gave to me a revelation. . . . I talked it to my brethren; I would throw out a few words here, and a few words there, to my first counselor, to my second counselor, and the Twelve Apostles, but with the exception of one or two of the Twelve, it would not touch a man. . . . I would have given it if the people had been prepared. . . . But I could not touch them. One would say, "I am for California," and another one, "I am for gold," and I am for this and I am for that. 40

The good old frontier spirit of independence.

And a New Beginning

Crossing the Plains to Utah brought the Saints to their senses, and the famine that afflicted them in 1848 was averted only "by the exercise of the highest wisdom and the broadest charity, and the partial observance of the principle of the United Order, which the Saints had before sought to introduce, and still have it in their mission to establish. The people were put upon rations, all sharing the same, like members of one great family." 41 To the hungry Pawnees, they gave freely of their scarce grain. "The spirit begotten by such an act of generosity opened the hearts of the Saints for the enjoyment of their conference, and fitted them more perfectly for the worship of God." 42

When the crickets and drought struck in 1855, Heber C. Kimball wrote in his journal, "Perhaps many feel a little sober because our bread is cut off, but I am glad of it, because it will be a warning to us. . . . The earth is determined to rest, and it is right that it should." 43 The next year he wrote:

Money will not buy flour or meal. . . . I sell none for money but let it go where people are truly destitute. Dollars and cents do not count now. . . . Some of the people drop many big tears, but if they cannot learn wisdom by precept, nor by example, they must learn it by what they suffer. . . . I wish to God this people would all listen to counsel . . . and move as one man and be one. If this were the case, our enemies would never have any more power over us, our granaries never would be empty, nor would we see sorrow. 44

The design of President Young was that no speculation in lands by the brethren should be allowed whereby the first comers should enrich themselves at the expense of their brethren who should follow. . . . This arrangement prevented any one man from holding a large tract [of land] near the city, and by so doing prevented speculation by the individual to the detriment of the whole community. . . . In other words, the interest of the whole was to be uppermost in the mind of each man, and the spirit of greed and avarice seldom asserted itself on the part of those noble founders of Utah's great commonwealth. 45

By present-day standards, Jesse W. Fox, the official surveyor, was woefully deficient in vision, enterprising spirit, and business know-how: "If anyone asked him to select one [tract] for him he promptly refused, saying that those who owned the land should be builders on it and that no one by his assistance should ever speculate at the expense of the poor Saints coming to the valley." 46

Speaking on that subject, "the question of consecration was presented [in Conference of April 1854]. President Kimball said, 'I want all I have to be secured in the Kingdom of God.' They knew the dangers and temptations of wealth, the selfishness which it begets, as well as the destruction of brotherly love." 47 The main thing Brother Brigham insisted on in their new home was that they get over the illusion of personal economic independence.

As I have already observed, the people are ignorant. . . . We are here on the earth . . . and it seems as though we, as individuals, were perfectly independent of every creature or being throughout the immensity of space. . . . We do not fully realize from whence we have received anything we now have in our possession. This is in consequence of our shortsightedness. 48

"Some of the Saints are almost persuaded to think that the Lord has called upon them to consecrate, to give up something which they consider their own, but in reality is not, to somebody that never did own it. . . . It is a vain and foolish thought for men to think they own anything of themselves." 49 "If men are faithful, the time will come when they [can] . . . obtain, organize, bring into existence, and own. 'What, of themselves, independent of their Creator?' No." 50 "He has called upon the people to consecrate their property, to see whether they could understand so simple a thing as this." 51 Their reaction to the command was the usual. With the Christian world, the Latter-day Saints acknowledged in their meetings that the earth was the Lord's. In their weekly meetings, they have told how the Lord has blessed them. Did they mean it?

Relapse to Normalcy

How did they take these teachings? Brigham Young in 1851 was sick at the sight of so many of the Saints running to California chiefly after the God of this world, and he was unable to address them. 52 Two years later, he deplored the rise of juvenile crime, but even more the pious men who inspired it: Who are the real delinquents? he asks.

I have not the least hesitation in saying that the loose conduct, and calculations, and manner of doing business, which have characterized men who have had property in their hands, have laid the foundation to bring our boys into the spirit of stealing. You have caused them to do it, you have laid before them every inducement possible, to learn their hands and train their minds to take that which is not their own. 53

"Why not . . . day by day watch and chasten yourselves?" he asks the Saints, but instead of that, everyone "becomes so absorbed in their improvement and increase, that he forgets why he came here, [and] that the hands upon the Public Works need food to sustain life, that after all he is only a steward at most. . . . While another, still more culpable in that he produces nothing, strives to amass wealth, and build up a name by becoming a mere trader, and far too often a shaving trader, and of course he too is soon fully imbued with the ruling passion of selfishness." 54 He is not speaking of isolated cases: "The grand difficulty with this community is simply this, their interest is not one. When you will have your interests concentrated in one, then you will work jointly, and we shall not have to scold and find fault, as much as we are now required to." 55

The man, or the woman, that mainly looks after the fruit, after the luxuries of life, good food, fine apparel, and at the same time professes to be a Latter-day Saint, if he does not get that spirit out of his heart, it will obtain a perfect victory over him; . . . and if he does not get rid of that spirit, the quicker he starts east for the States, or west for California, the better. 56

Heber C. Kimball, preaching "against pride and covetousness," expressed his "fear of riches. . . . Said he: 'If the Saints will repent, the Lord's wrath will be turned away, but they will not repent until it is too late.'" And as before, it was too late — within the year Johnston's army struck. 57 As it approached, in 1857, Brigham Young made an oft-quoted statement:

I am more afraid of covetousness in our Elders than I am of the hordes of hell. Have we men out now of that class? I believe so. I am afraid of such spirits; for they are more powerful and injurious to this people than all hell outside of our borders. All our enemies in the United States or in the world, and all hell with them marshalled against us, could not do us the injury that covetousness in the hearts of this people could do us; for it is idolatry. 58

And in the next year: "Whether you can see it or not, I know that this people are more or less prone to idolatry; for I see that spirit manifested every day, and hear of it from nearly every quarter." 59 And so the enemy moved in and the Mormons moved out: "The roads are lined with men, women, children, teams, and wagons — all moving south," wrote Wilford Woodruff. 60 In this crisis, "speculators thought they saw an opportunity to make money from the Saints by purchasing their homes in these the hours of their distress," 61 thus anticipating those farsighted Saints of a later day who would write best-selling books on How to Profit by the Coming Hard Times. In the first year, "the city seemed to be over-run by speculators and adventurers," 62 such as "Wardle, Russel, and Miller, . . . a firm of speculators who were making money out of the conditions incident to the presence of the United States Army." In 1858, the Chamber of Commerce was organized "for the purpose of protecting the citizens against the exorbitant prices demanded by those merchants who were taking advantage of the times" — price control, no less. 63

Business not only followed the flag, setting an example for years to follow, but it also showed the way, "for it is the conduct of traders who have fattened in our midst that has brought an army into our Territory. I would rather see every building and fence laid in ashes than to see a trader come in here with his goods." 64 "Instead of reflecting upon and searching for hidden things of the greatest value to them, they rather wish to learn how to secure their way through the world as easily and as comfortably as possible. The reflections what they are here for, who produced them, and where they are from, far too seldom enter their minds" (compromise). 65

Got Mine!

After all their suffering, had the Saints learned? In 1860, President Young asked that question: "Are those who have been in the Church twenty, twenty-five, or thirty years prepared to have the visions of eternity opened to them? No." 66

Instead of being united in our feelings to build up all, each one takes his own course; whereas, if we were united, we would get rich ten times faster than we do now. How are you going to bring a people to that point when they will all be united in the things of this life? By no other means than prevailing upon them to live their religion that they all may possess the Holy Ghost, the spirit of revelation, the light of Christ, which will enable them to see eye to eye. 67

Did they fail to see the light? "Do you think you will have your farm and your substance by yourself, and live in the gratification of your selfish propensities as you now do? 'O, no, we expect to be made pure and holy.' Where will you begin to be pure and holy? If you do not begin here, I do not know where you will begin." 68 But there was always that insistence on having things both ways:

I will ensure that there are scores, and perhaps hundreds, looking at me while I am speaking, who think, "Brother Brigham, you are a fool; we have as good a right to trade with one man as another; and we will go to what store we please, and do what we please with our means, and we will trade with those who will do the best by us." Yet there are hundreds who, and in fact the most of the people, understand the folly of this course, as the experience of the past six-months has proved. 69

They did see it, but still, "We have to become more like a single family, and be one, that we may be the Lord's; and not every one have his own individual interest." 70 He repeated the admonition of 1858:

[There is] too much love of the things of the world. There is more danger to be apprehended from this source than all the mobs that could be organized and brought in opposition. Lust after the things of the world had ruined the most powerful nations. . . . Wherever there existed a hunger for ease and wealth in place of a hunger for righteousness, sooner or later the parties thus inclined would lose the Spirit of God, and go into darkness. After the lust for women, this greed for gain was next in order in its corrupting tendencies. 71

To be specific, Take a man, for instance, who has got a five acre lot. He wants his team, he must have his horses, harness, wagon, plow, harrow and farming utensils to cultivate that five acres, just as though he was farming a hundred acres. And when harvest comes, he is not accommodated by his neighbors with a reaping machine, and he says — "Another year, I will buy one," and this to harvest five acres of grain. Take the article of wagons among this people, we have five where we should not have more than two. . . . Again, take mowing and reaping machines, and we have probably twice or three times as many in this Territory as the people need. . . . If this community would be united, and work cattle instead of horses, they might save themselves from two to five hundred thousand dollars yearly. 72

Having It Both Ways

In Brigham Young's last year, the course of things caused him great concern: The Saints wanted it both ways: "Now those that can see the spiritual atmosphere can see that many of the Saints are still glued to this earth and lusting and longing after the things of this world, in which there is no profit. . . . According to the present feeling of many of our brethren, they would arrogate to themselves this world and all that pertains to it. . . . Where are the eyes and the hearts of this people?" 73

If we do not wake up and cease to long after the things of this earth, we will find that we as individuals will go down to hell, although the Lord will preserve a people unto himself. . . . Well, now, some of the Elders are running after these holes in the ground, and I see men before me, in this house [the St. George Temple] that have no right to be here. They are as corrupt in their hearts as they can be, and we take them by the hand and call them brother. 74

You may think this is plain talk, it is not as plain as you will find by and by. If you should ever go to the gates of heaven, Jesus will say he never knew you. While you have been saying your prayers and going to your meetings and are as corrupt in your hearts as men can be. . . . Not but what there are a great majority of the people as good as they know how to be, . . . but show some of the Elders of Israel according to their present conduct a dollar on one side and eternal life on the other, and I fear they would choose the dollar. 75

Some of the Latter-day Saints had an idea that they could take the follies of the world in one hand and the Savior in the other, and expect to get into the presence of the Lord Jesus. 76

We need not refer to the traditions of the fathers with regard to the manifestations of covetousness we see so much of. Observe the customs and habits . . . of . . . our brethren and sisters here. We see men from twenty years up to old age who are entirely overcome by their desire to obtain gold. . . . We exhort the people not to be such fools as to run after the golden image; and sometimes we tell them that we will cut them off from the Church, if they do. This has caused this great outcry. 77

At a conference Brigham Young "advised men not to work so hard that they had to get half drunk in order to keep it up." 78

After the Utah Reformation and the Crisis of 1856-58, things went back to normal, with the usual drift in the usual direction. Brigham Young in 1867: "The Latter-day Saints, in their conduct and acts with regard to financial matters, are like the rest of the world. The course pursued by men of business in the world has a tendency to make a few rich, and to sink the masses of the people in poverty and degradation. Too many of the Elders of Israel take this course. No matter what comes they are for gain — for gathering around them riches." 79

In the Gilded Age of the 1870s, Brigham Young never ceased to plead and explain: "Will he ever grant power to his Saints on the earth? Yes, . . . but in the capacity they are now, in the condition that they now present themselves before God, before the world and before each other? Never, Never!" 80 And next year: "Do the people understand it? Scarcely! scarcely! . . . How is it? Are not the sordid things of this life before our eyes, and have they not thrown a mist before them so that we can not see?" 81 "How long shall we travel, how long shall we live, how long shall God wait for us to sanctify ourselves and become one in the Lord, in our actions and in our ways for building up of the kingdom of God, that he can bless us?" 82 "The Lord is merciful to us, that he still remembers us, that he is still feeling after us, and that he is sending forth his voice — the voice of his Spirit, into the hearts of his people, crying unto them — 'Stop! Stop your course! Cease to bring in and build up Babylon in your midst.'" 83 But alas, "What is the general expression through our community? It is that the Latter-day Saints are drifting as fast as they can into idolatry, drifting into the spirit of the world and into pride and vanity." 84

Babylon Rejected (Again?)

Things had gone so far by 1875 that another Reformation was in order. President Young at conference spoke on the great duty that rested upon the Saints to put in operation God's purposes with regard to the United Order, by the consecration of the private wealth to the common good of the people. The underlying principle of the United Order was that there should be no rich and no poor, that men's talents should be used for the common good, and that selfish interests should make way for a more benevolent and generous spirit among the Saints. 85

In response, "The whole assembly [of the priesthood] voted to renew their covenants, and later the Presidency, the Twelve, the Seventies, and the Presiding Bishop were baptized and entered into a special covenant to observe the rules of the United Order. . . . This movement became general throughout the Church." 86

John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow, who were to be Brigham Young's successors, all became enthusiastic leaders in the movement. They fervently sang the hymn "Adam Ondi Ahman":

This earth was once a garden place, with all her glories common,
And men did live a holy race, and walk with Jesus face to face
In Adam-ondi-Ahman.

We read that Enoch walked with God, above the rule of Mammon . . .

Wilford Woodruff in 1879 reported from Arizona,

The people of these settlements all live in the United Order. . . . There seemed to be universal satisfaction . . . with this order of things. . . . All fared alike, the president, priest, and people. . . . I could see many advantages they had above those who were living, each man for himself. . . . They are daily getting rich, . . . all is theirs, . . . as though one man owned the whole. . . . Until I can learn a better way, I feel to say with every sentiment of my heart to . . . every . . . settlement living in the Order, go ahead and God bless you; . . . and as President Taylor and the Apostles advocate the same principle, I hope that all the priesthood will sustain [it]. . . . It appears to me that the further we withdraw from this union into individuality of gardens, lots, orchards, cows, pigs, and chickens, the further we withdraw from the United Order, and the more we open the door for selfishness, temptation, and fault-finding with each other, the same as before [when] we . . . would open a door to give each man an excuse to spend his time attending to his individual affairs, instead of laboring for the general good of all. 87

Lorenzo Snow's enterprise in Brigham City was perhaps the most successful one. The first five presidents of the Church all knew the United Order would work, and yet but five years after the death of Brigham Young, in 1882, President Taylor hesitantly permitted "some of our brethren to branch out into business on their own." That the idea was not his own, and that he had serious reservations, is clear from the official letter:

Babylon Delivered (Again!)

A feeling had been manifested by some of our brethren [it was their idea] to branch out into the mercantile business on their own account [independence at last], and his [John Taylor's] idea, as to that, was, if people would be governed by correct principles, laying aside covetousness and eschewing chicanery and fraud, dealing honestly and conscientiously with others as they would like others to deal with them, that there would be no objection on our part for our brethren to do these things; that it was certainly much better for them to embark in such enterprises than our enemies. 88

Far from being a commandment, the change was only permitted with uneasy reservations; the reluctance of the "no objection" concession is apparent in the argument that free enterprise would be even less desirable if it was the prerogative of the enemies in our midst. Would the new enterprises be "laying aside covetousness"? What was their purpose if not to acquire wealth? As to "eschewing fraud and chicanery," which is still the plea to this day, has not the experience of the past shown that such appeals are as futile as giving a small boy a drum with the sober admonition to play it softly forever after?

What had happened to sidetrack the United Order? A recent in-depth economic history of the 1870s explains:

During this period, astute businessmen gradually gained control of the cooperatives and replaced the cooperative methods of retailing with methods closer to pure private enterprise. In the process these new owners completely changed the character of the companies; though they often kept the company name the same, in order to take advantage of the local appeal the cooperatives still held. 89

Retaining the name might be considered a stroke of genius were it not so very obvious; the religious note had to be retained in the territory, and few will protest today that the stately emblem of ZCMI breathes neither the unworldly aroma of Zion nor the tainted breath of a true cooperative.

"By the mid-eighties, most of the stock of the cooperatives [which needed large sums of money to buy machinery made only in the east and abroad] had been sold to a few businessmen who now controlled the entire operation, . . . making them corporations run by the major stockholders whose main concern became profit-making." 90

Square One

If we ask what improvement has been made up to the present, there is no better standard to judge by than that given by President Spencer W. Kimball in a solemn and inspired message to the church on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the nation. 91 The address gives us a picture of the Church, the nation, and indeed the world that is a miracle of clarity and condensation, placing the physician's finger with unerring accuracy on the really important issues. First, by way of introduction, a general observation: "When I review the performance of this people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened." Not a particularly cheerful or even optimistic message. What is it that so frightens and appalls the prophet? Three things in particular:

1. The abuse of the environment: "When I . . . fly over the vast and beautiful expanses of our globe, . . . I have the feeling that the good earth can hardly bear our presence upon it. . . . The Brethren constantly cry out against . . . pollution of mind, body, and our surroundings. . . . That such a cry should be necessary among a people so blessed is amazing to me."

2. The pursuit of personal affluence: "Carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things. . . . When men have fallen under the power of Satan and lost the faith, they have put in its place a hope in the 'arm of flesh' and in 'gods of silver, and gold, of brass,' . . . that is, in idols. . . . Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishing, automobiles and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life."

3. Trust in military security: "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. . . . What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? . . . We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the 'arm of flesh,' for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, 'I will not spare any that remain in Babylon' [D&C 64:24]."

And how did the Saints, who never tire of saying, "The Prophet! The Prophet! We have a prophet!" receive his words? As might be expected, reaction has ranged from careful indifference to embarrassed silence and instant deep freeze. As to the three things against which they were warned, it can be shown with cruel documentation that Utah leads the nation, at least through its representatives, in outspoken contempt for the environment, unabashed reverence for wealth, and ardent advocacy of military expansion.

On various occasions, Brigham Young made it perfectly clear that no possible grounds remain for evading or postponing the law of consecration; there is nothing to argue or temporize about; the clarifying and explaining have all been done. It has been repeatedly presented to the people in the most clear and unequivocal terms — and flatly rejected by them. Not by a show of hands — that would have been perfectly permissible — but by proclaiming by word and deed after leaving the meetings that they had no intention of keeping certain parts of the law. Notice how Israel and the Saints of every age, when called to keep the law, are reminded that unless they live up to every point of the agreement the whole covenant will be nullified — it is the whole law or nothing. The Saints covenanted and promised to observe it with the clear understanding that God is not to be mocked in these things, and that the only alternative to living up to every item of covenants made with him is to be in Satan's power (cf. Moses 4:4). Which is where we are today, along with the rest of the world. It is the stubborn insistence on having it both ways, keeping parts of the law that content them while putting the rest on hold, that generates those crippling contradictions that mark our present condition.

If Brigham Young could say in 1877 that "the Latter-day Saints present a strange spectacle to those that enjoy the spirit of revelation," today the spectacle is unfolding to all the world. Economists, journalists, political analysts, sociologists, historians, psychologists, and not least of all General Authorities have all had occasion in the present year to offer explanations for the paradoxical phenomenon of "Utah, the Fraud Capital of the World." If you have followed our little history, there is nothing paradoxical about it. Almost all of the experts agree that the cause of the thing lies in a strange combination of goodness, gullibility, and greed among the people who have always, "like Israel of old," to quote President Woodruff, "associated certain worldly successes with their ideas of right, and misfortune with their ideas of wrong." Since the beginning, the Saints have been under the necessity of frequent routine warnings against "the hard-sell techniques of men not interested in truth, who insist that the acquisition of wealth is a state of blessedness" (1 Timothy 6:5). The King James translators, innocent of the economic jargon of a decadent society, gave the passage a more philosophic turn, but just as damning: "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself" (1 Timothy 6:5). The urgent warning, indeed the whole epistle, shows that such men were influential and dangerous in the church; and all Paul could do about it was to advise his hearers to steer clear of them.

What can we look forward to now? "Happy is the man whom God correcteth!" If the Lord still loves the Saints, he will treat them as before and give them some very rough times indeed to bring them to their senses. Meanwhile the constant cry of their great leader Brigham Young still reverberates in the hearts of the faithful: How long, O Lord? How long will it be? "We may travel for many years before the sunshine appears. It does not yet appear to this people, they are merely in the twilight." 92 "Could we expect them to become prepared to be the disciples of the Lord Jesus in one, in five, in ten, in twenty, or in thirty years?" 93 On the eve of the Civil War, he asked them: "Are the Latter-day Saints preparing themselves for the calamities that are coming upon the earth? or are they covetous?" 94 And when the war is over: "We look forward to the day . . . when we will be prepared to build up Zion. Are we prepared now? No, we are not. We are only professedly Latter-day Saints." 95 The feigned words of the profession covered an ever-growing covetousness that blossomed into spectacular flower in the Gilded Age of the nation's history: "We are constantly receiving communications from the elders laboring in the States. . . . There is a coldness in the minds of the people, a total indifference to the gospel and its glorious truths and the whole sum of their inquiries [is] how and where we can make the most money." 96 And two years later: "How long shall we travel, how long shall we live, how long shall God wait for us to sanctify ourselves and become one in the Lord, in our actions and in our ways for building up of the kingdom of God, that he can bless us?" 97 The question still awaits an answer.

In the face of all this, students still cling to the belief that it is all right to get rich if you intend to help the Church. Let us hear the wise, experienced, and inspired Brigham Young on the subject:

When the people arrive here, many of them come to me and say, "Brother Brigham, can we go here, or there, to get us farms? Shall we enter into this or that speculation? We have been very poor, and we want to make some money. . . . We want to go where we can have plenty of range for our stock, where we can mount our horses, and ride over the prairies, and say, I am Lord of all I survey. We do not wish to be disturbed, in any way, nor to be asked to pay tithing, to work upon the roads, nor pay territorial tax, but we wish all the time to ourselves, to appropriate to our own use." 98

Here, if ever, was the culmination of the American Dream on the wildest of the frontiers. But with it they wanted the rewards of faith:

If you ask them if they are ready to build up the kingdom of God, their answer is prompt — "Why, to be sure we are, with our whole souls; but we want first to get so much gold, speculate and get rich, and then we can help the Church considerably. We will go to California and get gold, go and buy goods and get rich, trade with the emigrants, build a mill, make a farm, get a large herd of cattle, and then we can do a great deal for Israel." When will you be ready to do it? "In a few years, brother Brigham, if you do not disturb us. We do not believe in the necessity of doing military duty, in giving over our surplus property for tithing; we never could see into it; but we want to go and get rich, to accumulate and amass wealth, by securing all the land adjoining us, and all we have a knowledge of." If that is not the spirit of this people, then I do not know what the truth is concerning the matter. 99

Here the prophet shows us what today is glorified as the spirit that won the West, that made America great, and so on, in direct conflict with the spirit by which the kingdom must be built up, and he rebukes those Saints who insisted that they could sustain the one in the spirit of the other. It is time to give up that pious sophistry. So here is the answer to our question, What has gone wrong? The Lord has not let you down after all your plans and exertions. You have let him down by all your plans and exertions.

A Note on Being Independent

God has announced that he has a plan to prepare for himself special people and to make his church "independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world" (D&C 78:14). We get as far as the word "independent" and, without reading another syllable farther, declare our resolution to get rich and thereby achieve the independence God wants us all to have.

But if God has a plan, why not let him tell us what it is, instead of cutting him off in the middle of a sentence the way Cain did when he saw that God's plan would interfere with his own plans for getting rich (Moses 5:23-33)?

The Lord speaks of the Church's being independent — nothing about the individual; and of independence, but only of the powers here below "beneath the celestial world," not of orders from above. He makes it all very clear: It is my plan — not yours! (D&C 78:14). "It is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way, . . . that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints" (D&C 104:15-16). The plan is a heavenly one, given as a special blessing to the elect, God's own people, to set them apart from the rest of the world — there is no human invention about it. But that one word, "independent," is enough to set us off after the way of the world, interposing our own plan right in the middle of the sentence, so that it will look like his, not even bothering to consider what the Lord has in mind. And what do we come up with? Nothing in the world but the old familiar run-of-the-mill capitalism — the world's way after all. Is this what the Lord has been holding in reserve for his people?

"It must needs be done in mine own way," says the Lord, and in the very same sentence gives us as the essence of that plan, "that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low" (D&C 104:16) — all brought to the same economic level—so that we all have "sufficient for our needs," which is quite enough for anyone. The idea is "that you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also. . . . For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things" (D&C 78:5-6). It is nothing more nor less than a redistribution of the wealth, for "it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another" (D&C 49:20). As Brigham Young put it, "the underlying principle . . . was that there should be no rich and no poor." 100

Now Joseph Smith knew as well as anyone that "if we were eaquel in property at present in six months we would be worse [off] than Ever [sic]." And he tells us exactly why — not because the more industrious, far-sighted, dedicated, and enterprising members of society would quickly acquire most of the wealth, but because "there [are] too many dishonest men amongst us who [have] more injenity [ingenuity] to threat the Rest [of us]." 101 The inevitable inequality comes from dishonest men with ingenious plans, who endanger "the Rest" by forcing all to play the game their way to avoid becoming their victims: "Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey" (Isaiah 59:15). It is Satan's master stroke — all must set their hearts on riches or become the servants of those who do.

Consecration and the United Order begin with the observance of civic duty. "I prophecy [sic]," said Joseph Smith in 1841, "that the day will come when you will say Oh that we had given heed but look now upon our public works the store schoolhouse for instance the Simoon of the Desert has passed over it." The people had neglected the common interest for the private: "The people will not hearken nor hear and bondage Death and destruction are close at our heels." With this dire prophecy (and there never was a truer) goes another, most reassuring to us all: "The Kingdom will not be broken up"! What then, can we relax? Now comes one of the most enlightening and reassuring of prophecies. In view of what has happened, one cannot help but ask, How will it all turn out, and how can the Lord go on tolerating such behavior? Here is the answer: "The Kingdom will not be broken up but we shall be scattererd and driven gathered again & then dispersed reestablished & driven abroad and so on until the Ancient of days shall sit and the kingdom and power thereof shall then be given to the Saints and they shall possess it forever and ever, which may God hasten for Christs sake Amen." 102 Now this is exactly the process we have been describing. The discouraging thing is that we never learn; the encouraging thing is that when we see the dismal cycle repeating itself again, we are beholding the fulfillment of prophecy — all is going forth as foretold, and, best of all, the kingdom still hangs on; it will never be too late for the faithful to work for the building up of the kingdom. Each individual is being tested every hour of the day: "The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God the Devil takes power." 103 One or the other — we will never be allowed the luxury of compromise.

A most enlightening account of how one gets rich to help the Church is the story of F. A. Hammond, a man who landed in San Francisco in 1848, joined the Church there, and by great industry and sound common sense acquired considerable wealth — Sam Brannan begged him to become his business partner. Involved in the Gold Rush from the first, he recalls, "I was so full of the spirit of the gathering that I did not regard gold at all." He got rich selling food and supplies to the miners, and then he set out on advice of Brigham Young to join the struggling Saints in the Valley. Passing through the gold country "opposite Mormon Island" on the Sacramento River, he found that "the goods loaded on his splendid wagon were in such great demand that he could easily make from 200 to 500 percent profit on them, . . . and prices were increasing every day." "It fairly made my head swim, and Satan whispered in my ears, 'Why not remain another year, and trade and speculate and get rich; and then you can assist the poor Saints, the widow and the orphan, and take them up to Zion. . . . The people already there are hard put to it to sustain themselves.' In this manner I was tried, and sorely too." 104 Note who was reasoning so piously and wisely, like Judas protesting his lively concern for the poor (John 12:4-6) — it was Satan. This reasoning caused Brother Hammond "great perplexity of mind" 105 — what was he to do? A vision that came to him on three successive nights solved the problem. In it, he was shown a terrible threat that hung over all those so diligently seeking gold on the river, and after the third revelation, "When I awoke . . . my mind was perfectly clear, and I felt to thank the Lord . . . that He had thus warned me . . . to flee from that land and gather with His people . . . and learn to be obedient to His commands." 106 The Lord had made clear that he is not pleased with the familiar sophistry of getting-rich-to-help-the-church.


1. TPJS, 9.
2. Ibid., 8.
3. Ibid., 14-15.
4. Ibid., 18-19.
5. Ibid., 47.
6. Ibid., 225.
7. HC 2:487-88.
8. Matthias Cowley, The Life of Wilford Woodruff (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964), 67.
9. Ibid., 68.
10. Ibid., 88.
11. Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945), 99.
12. Ibid., 101.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid., 181.
15. Ibid., 36.
16. Edward Stevenson, The Life and History of Elder Edward Stevenson (n.d.), 40-41.
17. JD 2:305-6.
18. Tertullian, De Spectaculis II, 89-90.
19. JD 2:299.
20. Ibid., 2:306.
21. Ibid., 2:306-7.
22. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 185.
23. Ibid., 217-18.
24. JD 15:4.
25. TPJS, 141.
26. HC 3:301.
27. WJS, 11.
28. TPJS, 297.
29. Ibid., 183.
30. Ibid., 231.
31. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodruff, 160.
32. TPJS, 127-28.
33. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodruff, 166.
34. Ibid., 169.
35. Ibid., 167.
36. Ibid., 170.
37. TPJS, 331.
38. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodruff, 320.
39. JD 13:1.
40. Ibid., 18:244.
41. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 389.
42. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodruff, 328-29.
43. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 400.
44. Ibid., 405-6.
45. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodruff, 317.
46. Ibid.
47. Ibid., 356.
48. JD 2:300.
49. Ibid., 2:303.
50. Ibid., 2:304.
51. Ibid., 2:305.
52. From the Manuscript History of Brigham Young (Church Historical Archives).
53. JD 1:255.
54. MS 17:120.
55. JD 4:30.
56. Ibid., 4:52.
57. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 446.
58. JD 5:353.
59. Ibid., 6:197.
60. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodruff, 400.
61. Ibid.
62. Ibid., 406.
63. Ibid., 409.
64. JD 7:47.
65. Ibid., 7:282.
66. Ibid., 8:164.
67. Ibid., 11:349.
68. Ibid., 13:2.
69. Ibid., 13:31-32.
70. Ibid., 13:314.
71. MS 35:691.
72. JD 17:57-58.
73. MS 39:118.
74. MS 39:119.
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid., 35:275.
77. Ibid., 22:737-38.
78. Ibid., 21:825.
79. JD 11:348.
80. Ibid., 15:2.
81. Ibid., 15:3.
82. Ibid., 15:4.
83. Ibid., 17:37.
84. Ibid., 18:239.
85. From the Manuscript History of Brigham Young (Church Historical Archives).
86. Cowley, Life of Wilford Woodfruff, 487-88.
87. Ibid., 517-18.
88. Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1958), 314.
89. M. E. Christensen, "The Making of a Leader," (Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1980), 128.
90. Ibid.
91. Spencer W. Kimball, "The False Gods We Worship," Ensign 6 (June 1976), 3-4.
92. JD 3:191.
93. Ibid., 5:167.
94. Ibid., 8:344 (emphasis added).
95. Ibid., 12:310.
96. Dean C. Jessee, ed., Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1974), 138 (February 16, 1870).
97. JD 15:4.
98. Ibid., 1:164.
99. Ibid.
100. From the Manuscript History of Brigham Young (Church Historical Archives).
101. WJS, 68.
102. Ibid., 67.
103. Ibid., 60.
104. N. B. Lundwall, Faith Like the Ancients, 2 vols. (Manti: Mountain Valley, 1968), 2:121.
105. Ibid.
106. Ibid., 2:123.