Response to Comments on “Wow” and Tent People Post

Ordinarily, a post written by me will not generate a single comment.  I have been please to see not only comments coming from the recent posts, but thoughtful ones, full of charity, too.  I was wrong to assume Pontius’s visionary text was naturally used by AVOWers, because it says what they happen to believe about the destruction of the world.  It is a sign of the quality of Mormon readers, that they would not only point out what I missed, and do so kindly; but also that they could see the differences I passed over.

It seems that whatever the book by Pontius / Spencer is about, it can be read as both confirming and denouncing what AVOWers and tent people and Call Outers espouse, hope for, and would like to see happen to the majority of God’s children.  And probably these terms, AVOWers and so on, are not really good characterizations, either, of the diversity and complexity “in” such groups.

I should’ve known this, as an anthropologist, but forgot my anthropology for a time.

Let me respond to the comments, too, in more detail.

Concerning the feeling of the spirit said to result from reading Pontius’s blog, or his books (or Denver’s, or mine):

This gets to the heart of the matter: what sort of God does he espouse?  I said he was a devil-worshipper, and apparently folks get a little worked up when you call their recently deceased friend a worshipper of Satan (this is just a joke, making fun of myself).

I do think the God he preached about, in the posts I’ve read, is otherwise known to me as Satan, however.

Here’s why:  In the Beginning, God comes among the Noble and Great Ones, and calls them “good.”  He also comes among the spirits, and calls them “good.”  He makes the NGOs the “rulers” for the spirits, but does not say what being a ruler really means.  A great one, Like Unto God (LUG), adds his rules to the plan to take elements and form worlds for the spirits to inhabit.  In his plan, there is a clear accounting and distribution of rewards, to those who exhibit the most obedience to the “lord their god.”  What he seems to be attempting is to establish a rule which has a theory for what progresses and develops spirits.  In his theory, it is obedience to superior beings, pure and simple.  Such higher beings, moreover, are also bound by the rule, and should not go about giving things to lower order beings who don’t deserve them.

Now, when God came among them, he called them all good, and not really in need of tests of obedience, proving them herewith to see if they will do all things commanded.  The elements do this, but we are dealing with spirits, not dirt.  LUG seems to confuse these distinct orders of existence.  So, why add the clause about obedience?  LUG seems to have a notion about what makes the universe work, and he seems pretty well convinced that the Lord their God is probably what makes it all work.  He is right, but also subtle.  He uses a title, Lord their God, relative to those tested; rather than an absolute standard (God), and leaves open a way for him to take up that title.  So, when the Lord asks whom he should send (now, not in the meridian of time), one says “here I am,” (the great I am, let’s say); another, the second, also offers his services, and is denied.  Being angry with his rejection by God, he leaves.

Note a few important details.  God did not command he leave, but the Second left by his own free will.  Let’s say he had pronounced the rule about obedience to God, and by violating his own rule, he was bound to its consequences, and lost his estate.  But that does not mean he won’t keep trying to put the rule into play, for everyone, everywhere.  Should he prove that men are not Good, as God said, he would have reasons for saying God is not so omniscient, and perhaps is blinded.  Perhaps we need a new God, you can hear him hinting: one more careful about what he does with his elements, and weighs all things to ensure he does not waste resources on those who, by his standard, do not deserve them.

Yet, what we see with Jesus is talk about a perfect father in heaven, who sends the rain on the just and the unjust, and blesses those who curse him.  These statements can be found in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament.  Such a God seems not at all to be following the plan of LUG, who would not send rain on the unjust, nor bless those who curse him.  We are beggars, not employees in this system, and no matter what, remain unprofitable servants.  By LUG’s accounting, only he would get the estates.

When we preach obedience to God, this has a truth to it.  It matters, though which God we are preaching about.  We have the example of Jesus as a the right way for Gods to rule: longsuffering, patience, forbearance, hope, charity, and trusting beings before they have “earned” that trust.  Why would he be crucified in the Meridian of time, if not as a sign of his hope and faith that those who came before, and after, would believe in him?  Trust seems important here, and can be lost, but only because it was given to folks before they “earned” it, right?

With LUG we have a system of strict rewards for obedience, an endless hierarchy of toadyism, sycophancy, and so on, which looks a lot like what we’d otherwise find disgusting and dangerous, in other realities (e.g., Brigham Young’s Utah; the government; our workplace).  There is no right or wrong, under LUG, except what LUG says.  By contrast, Jesus seems to trust even LUG, originally, to rule in a manner good for good spirits.  But, of course, LUG offered his plan for rulers and for the ruled, and it seems clear that such a plan does not work, for rulers or the ruled.  D&C 121 gives us what the “one like unto the Son of Man”  would’ve advocated, in that council in heaven.

LUG would like you to believe that “having the spirit” is the reward for righteousness, but in reality it seems that many people enjoy “the spirit” who probably are not so righteous.  They may be entrusted with its gifts, for a time; for the edification of others, but in no way earned it.  It is also the case that our terms are not entirely clear, here; by “the spirit” we seem to mean many things, and this too should mean that we can receive “it” for many reasons, such as a sign of mercy due to our being beguiled by the craftiness of men.  What sort of inferences can we make, if we accept that God might send “the spirit” to sinners, to give them hope in his mercy?  How would such a hope be corrupted, except by the principles of LUG: convincing us that what comes from mercy, is in fact a sign of our having earned it?  Having received many gifts from generous beings, I still have to fight the pride that says, “you earned this, it is no gift or charity.”  But that fight comes less often, now, although I remain in need of charity no less.  I think I have been taught about mercy by merciful beings, doing merciful things.  I would like to think I have progressed, as a result.  Had the LUG plan been implemented, I would have no insight into mercy, nor into the LUG plan itself: it would seem natural that the world was so constructed.  What possible conclusion could one come to, in that world, except that those who ruled it, earned their thrones, and ought to be obeyed in all things?  Where is right and wrong, truth and untruth, in this world?  By contrast, it was through mercy that I got some perspective.

Now, for sure I’m still trying to get Luggism out of my system, and it is good that if I post things which are more of Luggism than D&C121-ism, that readers of this blog hope I would do better, and even thought I could do better.  I hope to make good on your trust.

Thinking about “Wow” post and Small Tent People

I actually put the Wow, I mean Wow post in the pipeline to publish, with the intention of revising it. Having written about 100 pages over the weekend, I totally forgot about the post.  Volume Five of the Cultural History is coming along, and books 4a and 4b should be available soon.

When “Wow” was posted, and it got responses, I realized what had happened. And it requires more thinking about, by me, anyway.

The thread at LDSFreedomForum may be about whether the moon landing was faked, but this just shows how the debate about J.Fielding Smith has, like so much of Mormon conversation, been taken over by more widespread political discourse.  Our religion has always borrowed the words of others (from Campbell and Walter Scott, onward), and now we borrow from political news-mongers, rather than preachers (e.g., Glen Beck).  The question about Fielding Smith was obviously an attempt to trot out his ridiculous prophecy as an entry way to the widespread conspiracy theory, and to see one’s fellow LDS believing in the conspiracy, not necessarily in the prophet.  The conspiracy is a way to build testimony in the prophet, which I think is an odd way to go about one’s faith.

It is humorous that one might actually doubt the moon landing because Fielding Smith said so.  That is harmless, cult-like behavior (for now).  It is not so harmless nor humorous when we begin positing theories about anonymous powerful entities who construct false realities, and then get us to believe them; and, most troubling, when small segments of society believe they alone have not been subject to those false realities.  It means those small segments lack reflection on their own positions.

The doubt about the government is not productive doubt: at least, it is not productive of more knowledge.  In fact, it seems to open one to other conspiracy theories which require increasing disregard for the evidence all around the often increasingly blow-hard doubter.  As one world falls away (often as poorly understood as the new conspiracy theory’s world), another begins to rise which is run by back-room deals, an all-seeing-eye, and much else that could be turned against the conspiracy theory itself; that is, the conspiracy theory, if correct, that thousands of people could construct a vast deception, keep it secret and so on, could be used to explain the conspiracy theory’s origins.  Should you believe in the faked moon landing, you might as well believe that your theory about the faked landing could also be a conspiracy to make you paranoid; and to give you a false sense of understanding.

Which is easier, then?  To fake the moon landing, or to get half of Americans to believe that it was faked?  Which has more potent and negative social consequences?  The social value of NSA surveillance is not to surveil every conversation, but to get you to act as if your current conversation is under surveillance; the same paranoia is behind the Strengthening the Members Committee, and what is called Correlation, too.  It is far easier to subject a people by their own paranoia, than it is to actually enforce what they fear.

Now, I had no intention of mocking people’s beliefs about JFielding Smith, or moon landings, or whatever.  These are harmless beliefs or doubts.  But they are also symptoms of more troubling currents, which are not, admittedly, redirected by my posting about the symptoms.  There is no doubt you have, which is not also built on a vast foundation of assumptions.  If you think by doubting this and that, because you have constructed some threshold of proof you cannot explain or detail, you’ll come to true knowledge: well, it might be good to stand back and observe your behavior.  Will such a course of action led you to more knowledge, or to confusion?  Will you seek out likeminded conspiracy theorists, and find in that community the escape from sincere reflection on the origins of your doubts?  Don’t your doubts really come from having believed simple theories for complex things, and rather than admit your ignorance, you have decided that your ignorance was the result of a conspiracy to fool you, but since you are now beyond fooling, you have constructed a complex solution for a simple problem?  The simple problem being, ironically, rooted in a desire for a simple answer to what is really a complex world?

TENT PEOPLE

Consider the “tent vision” movement, oriented around ldsavow.com.  This website requires a paid subscription ($45 / yr), and offers books and survival packages, and plenty of places you can converse with people who will teach you it is ok to be a fool.  They will pour honey in your ears, as they empty your wallet, and tell you yonder is Zion, just over the Horizon.  Keep walking.  The phrase “tent vision” apparently is used to describe some vision of a person (“Spencer” I believe, as told to John Pontius).  It originally came from a Christian who had a vision of huge tent where people would be healed by God.  Not so, in our version.

The book about the vision of Mr. Spencer/Pontius has sold by the thousands, and it apparently tells about the Last Days, and the faithful (looking at you, readers!) who will not only survive (because they have tents), but soon thrive when God gives the world over to those who really have earned it.  Such books can be written over the weekend, and have no more basis in reality (or future reality) than any other story told by random people.  Head down to the subway station and ask homeless folks what will happen in the future: it is just as reliable as Pontius and Spencer’s visions.   Unless, of course, the street people say your future is not quite as bright as you’d like to believe.

In another post, before I knew anything about Pontius except what I saw on his blog, I suggested he worships the Devil.  I remain convinced of the correctness of that post.  However, given that Pontius has since died, he perhaps has some new insights about God and the Last Days, which he cannot now convey to his devoted readers.  Too bad.  The evil that men do often lives on when they have passed away.  From Pontius’s blog, “unblog my soul,” (what does that even mean?), I’ve only read the post I linked to in my response.  Maybe he was a nice guy, I don’t know.  But the god he promotes is the god I call Lucifer.  That god deceives, so that you will doubt what seems like all that is, but in reality you won’t doubt the power of power: that is, the power to make a reality, because some in authority says so.

As I understand the Tent Movement, it is standard survivalist nonsense, a marketing tactic driven by self-induced self-righteous paranoia.  The story is that the church will “Call Out” local leaders, who will send moving vans to pick up the supplies and bodies of the most faithful Mormons, and convey them all to a secret location in Canada, to wait out the Holocaust of mankind carried out by God.  After God has killed all the Chinese, Russian and Muslim occupiers of America, these Tent People will gather in Missouri and worship their God.  Who wouldn’t, given that he just wiped out most of humanity, for reasons not really explained?  Once there a man named Hitler who tried to do the same thing.  Was he wrong because his trains just picked up the wrong ethnicity or religious group?  What about all the other dictator-mass murderers?

Are you really sure the Last Days and the End and so on, and all the evil that men do, will only be exceeded in destruction by the work of the Father?  Where did you get these ideas, anyway?

When I was a teenager I used to watch Jack Van Impe, with his wife Rexella.  The show is still on, and he and Rexella continue to shout out the same voice of warning they shouted out when I was 14.  I enjoy the show, because the pair are interesting characters, and they seem to have no shame about taking people’s money for books and DVDs which advocate the same rubbish Christians and Jews have advocated for thousands of years.  In a recent ad for the show, Jack is boasting, actually boasting, that he has been predicting the coming war with Russia, and Armegeddon, since his youthful ministry.  Now, I can understand boasting when the Armegeddon has happened.  But it has not.  So, in effect he is saying he is right because he has been saying so for long enough, to himself and to people who buy his books; not because reality says so.  What I think that means is that he is currently wrong, and has been for decades.

Tent People, Moon Fakers, and others: Step back and think about it.  There will be no “crash of the dollar,” because the dollar has no value anyway.  Theories about the decline of the dollar, and paranoia (often hopeful) that the economy will crash and one will be left with silver and gold to buy and sell, are wrong.  Why?  Because silver and gold have no value, either; anymore than the dollar does.  These currencies have value because you and others believe they do.  You cannot then predict the failure of these currencies on the basis of their sudden lack of value.  What you mean is, these currencies will not be trusted among some group as being valuable.  Why not?  Because they either don’t trust one another, their hearts having waxed cold; or because they don’t trust the entity that claims to stand behind the currencies, to give it value.  What is that entity based on?  Your belief that the U.S. government has gold in some vault, or future revenue, which will allow it to pay debts, or to give you the value of the dollar.  Your entire system is based on beliefs, and so should the system fail, it is only because you and others fail to believe.  When you pronounce theories of conspiracy and certain collapse of civilization, you are contributing to the failure of society, NOT prophesying about it.  When you mint silver coins with the purported image of Captain Moroni (available at ldsavow), you have done something which will live on, indeed, into the future; but only because some grad student in the future will study your absurd movement, and subject you to trends in whatever discipline he or she happens to presently espouse.  That is your future, I predict (and probably mine, too).  Your coins and gold and guns and tents will have no value, for you will die before the Church Calls Out, and sends vans to pick you up.  And should you find yourself in Heaven, it may surprise you that its streets are paved with the metal you thought would be so valuable, in the End.  And there are no guns in Heaven.

The World you Tent People and Gold-Horders and Gun-nuts hope to inherit is a world that would not last a weekend.  If your New Jerusalem is based on the actualization of the fear that God will destroy the world, on a whim, apparently (he having not destroyed it yet, despite the Nazis, Stalin, Cambodia, Laos, Native Americans, that guy down the street…on and on); if that is your new world, it is based on the rule of a single powerful figure.  This model has been tried before, and it won’t work again.  Why would you build a house, in this New Jerusalem?  Why invest in any research project?  Why educate your children, or build schools?  What is the basis of trust in this New Jerusalem?  Because God made sure only the faithful survived?  Are you sure he did?  You’d better hope all the people you interact with are just as you imagine righteous and faithful people ought to be, or else doubts might creep into your mind about the wisdom of God in not destroying that-other-guy.  So, New Jerusalem in the fantasies of paranoia-profiteers like John Pontius (RIP), and the ldsavow writers, and all others who sell you the fantasy that you are chosen, loved, and worth keeping around (with the lie that those others are not) is a New Jerusalem that looks very much like a hermit’s cave, or a cult-leader’s bedroom; or a man in a walnut.  One man followed by a few, until they follow some other, or become cult leaders themselves.  You have not doubted sufficiently, but just enough to keep yourselves and your system pure.  And maybe that is the conspiracy you’ve yet to uncover: where did you get your ideas about the Last Days, churches, God and so on?  If bureaucrats can fake a moon landing, surely there are smarter beings who can fake churches, construct theologies and scripture, too (in the image of true ones, I mean).  But probably not your churches and scripture: those are probably right, because, lucky you, you believe them.

Is the God of Pontius and Beck really the God you can worship, trust, and have faith in repentance in? Or is it fear? Should there be a Call Out (just another version of the Rapture, but more boring, slow moving, and not quite as high, only as far as Canada), please leave me out of it.  I’ll be happy to reside in your homes, and drive your cars, and mow your grass, while you live in tents in the tundra, convinced that just around the horizon is your reward, and that other guy’s comeuppance.

Finally, does anyone want to rent a van with me, and go around picking up the Tent People’s property?

Wow. I mean, Wow.

Here’s a link to a forum for LDS protectors of freedom.
http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=8201

In this particular thread, the matter under discussion is whether Joseph Fielding Smith was “right” in 1961 when he claimed men will never, ever go to the moon.

Seriously, this is actually under debate: Was Joseph Fielding Smith correct, or not?

Totally fake!!!  How could I have been so foolish?

Here’s another question for the LDS Freedom forum: Do I exist? Perhaps someone is pretending to be me, worked up photos, bio, and so on. Prove I exist, for I am now in doubt, using the reasoning of some of your scholars: I have only pictures to see myself with, and I don’t make contact with myself, and it is physically impossible that I was created by sexual intercourse, according to physics. I was invented as part of a propaganda effort, to show how easy it is to convince myself that I exist.

Now, I can understand entertaining doubts about the Creation and Noah’s Ark, and so on, because one can always say, “God made it so.” But in this case, we are forced to explain away a lot of tangible evidence–such as satellites, cell phones, TV, weather channel, and the testimony of thousands–in order to keep Fielding Smith a prophet. No miracles, nor believe, only to keep our doubts alive about the Govamunt.

Incidentally, Wittgenstein said the same thing about men never landing on the moon (in the 1930s), although I think he’d admit he was wrong.

Time To Stand and Be Counted! In a Harem.

Now that the LDS Church’s stance on Racism has been made clear (historically OK because everyone was doing it, presently not OK, but NOT because not everyone is doing it anymore), it is about time they made their position clear on the matter of MARRIAGE.  Now we have clarity in this confusing and perplexing matter.  Should we be polygynous, polyandrous, monogamous, serially monogamous, group married, gay married, or others?

Here is an email my contractually obliged partner received from a woman who has her (I am contractually obliged to a partner the state recognizes is “female”) fellow attendee at a church, and who claims to belong to the “same” church.  The email is a rousing invitation to defend our society against anti-Harem activists:

————————-

Dear Friend,

I never guessed I would be spending so much time and energy on political causes, but as in the biblical account of Esther, I believe we as Church members in these latter days were sent for “such a time as this” to put on the armour of God and fight with the sword of truth, with love and civility to preserve our core values and freedoms.

Due to the complexity of this opening charge, I feel I must explain what it means.  As in the case of Esther, we too must now become part of the king’s harem, concealing our ethnicity, in order to avert the genocide of our people declared by his counselor.  And we will do so by arranging to meet with said counselor, on our beds wearing the “armour of God” eager to fight with “the sword of truth”, wherein the King shall enter and discovering the counselor nearly in flagrante delicto, will order him hanged.  We shall keep silent, and allow the King to misconstrue the entire scene, for this alone will keep our people from mass genocide.  Thus, we can continue to live our core values, being sent for a time as this, to fight with love and civility, etc. and so on! Why must we thus fight?

“God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society.” LDS Official Statement on Same Sex Marriage

Please see the attachments, note the dates, and let me know if you are willing to make your voice heard. We have until the end of February 2014 to be counted. This Winter the activists outnumbered the opposing majority with their voices 100/1–that is why these laws are being passed here in Utah.

Thank you neighbor!

____

By “these laws” I can only assume, laws concerning the prohibition of harems, concubines, and genocide, as there are no other laws I am aware of being passed by activists this winter concerning marriage in Utah.  And these biblical forms of marriage are, believe it or not, illegal!!!

Activist judges have been preventing our biblical, traditional marriage, even preventing us from taking our ribs and forming thereof a help meet!  That is why we cannot do it, you see: I mean, take our ribs and make helpmeets, leaving us only with making delicious meats from the ribs of unclean beasts!  How long, O Lord, shalt thou abide this misery of short ribs, babyback ribs, dry rubbed, and smoked?

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me find that serenity that cometh of the sword of truth.  OK.

It is finally clear to me why we must oppose Same Sex Marriage, and preserve Estherian marriage, wherein one man tries out concubines for a year, and among these selects the next queen to oversee his selection of additional concubines obtained by military conquest.

It is because God Heavenly Father has given us commandments to not let others be married in ways not ordained by him in Sacred Writ.  Quote, Levixodus 14:44, “And thou shalt take thy neighbors’ wives, and thy neighbors’ children to concubine, and shall marry but one, being of the secret ethnicity of the population thou seekest to put to the sword.  And hang thy counselor too, just in case he’s sleeping with one of your concubines.  Got it? Umm, what else…?  Oh yea, Thou shalt also not let any other man be married in anyway to anyone else, and definitely not to another man.  Even though it would make more concubines for thy seed, for a time, to have all the men taking and giving in marriage, didst thou consider that all thy helpmeets and concubines and haremites and hierodules might all marrieth one another?  Ah.  Here is wisdom.  And then you’ll be left with marrying other dudes.  Because, As I declareth, apparently, no woman whom I have formeth would ever really marry a dude, excepteth she be forbidden from other marrying other chicks.  Seriously this is a command, peace out.”  It’s in the Bible, I think.

Many are the commandments that state, thou shalt forbid others the peace and delights thou enjoyest, for reasons thou cannotst explaineth, but because someone sayeth I sayeth it is so.

Finally, with clarity we can move forward in faith against the activists, and marry our women to President Obama (who is now white enough to be given the priesthood, and send the uglies to Governor Herbert), hoping that by contracting our wives thusly, we can avert the genocide of our heterosexual populations, whose marriages are under threat of turning gay, should the activists instead send their “queens” to join the judge’s harems.  Even so, let it be written. 

And also, Volume 4 of the Cultural History of the Book of Mormon is proofing, and should be out next month.