Ponderize Us! Managerial Jargon And the Generic Authority’s Bailiwickification

What else is there to say about PONDERIZE?  It’s bad.  It’s good.  It’s silly.  It’s nuanced…let me ponderize a bit, or do I mean pondificate?

Ponderize: It’s a way to say you should PONDER and MEMORIZE in some blend of your thought-box-mind-machine, apparently, while reading some magic book.

What is different about this one?

OK.  Now, what about selling shirts that insist one should PONDERIZE, or that suggest the wearer of the shirt claims to PONDERIZE? Is that bad?  Why is that any different from insisting one should pay money to go the temple?

I mean, is enforcing a demand for payment before temple attendance WORSE, in the scheme of badness, than is asking someone to pay for a t-shirt?   Or, is it, that someone in Generic Authority Durrant’s family hoped to gain monetarily from the sale of those shirts?  Well, is that any different from them getting free tuition at BYU?  Or discounted loans from preferred lenders?  Or eating dinner with their dear old dad, and he pays?  Or him collecting a fee for his work as a GA?  Or going on a LDS mission without paying the monthly fee?  It’s different?  OK, how?

Well, they are selling merchandise with their dad’s GenCon phrase, and it is sacred because it talks about how we should think-memorize someone’s writings. 

But what about all those Be-this and Be-that kitsch that showed up the day after GB Hinckley counted up some number of bees?  How is that different, exactly?  Is it because the prophet can be sold, but not a lower ranking authority?  How is any religious kitsch different from the Ponderize?  Because the guy who said it had family members profiting from the sale of that kitsch?  Maybe it was a family phrase, and isn’t really any different from you selling something your dad says all the time.  There was a best selling book a few years back titled, “Sh*t my Dad said.”

Strangely prophetic, the Sugar Beet News published a story way back in like 2003 that predicted, in coded terms, the whole Ponderize fiasco.  I cannot find the page today, but I happened to save a copy of it years ago.  It reads, in part:


Conference-Themed Products Set Sales Records

By Chris Giauque

SALT LAKE CITY——According to a report from the LDS Industrial Group, an independent watchdog organization that tracks the performance of LDS-themed products and businesses, products based on the spring 2003 general conference are selling faster than any previous conference-themed product lines. ““We got a lot of good, memorable quotes out of the latest GC,” explained Jacob Buhn, president of the group. “It was just what we were looking for——short, snappy lines that promote brand retention in consumers’’ minds.”

The fastest-moving conference T-shirt features a humorous picture of a skunk drenched in tomato juice, with the caption ““Overcome the Stench of Sin,”” a reference to Elder Spencer V. Jones’s memorable talk. In addition, a poster with a picture of the scriptures and the caption “If all else fails——Please! Follow the instructions,” from Elder Rex D. Gerratt’’s talk, is selling very well on BYU campuses.

“The ideal product is based on a memorable line from a high authority,” explained Buhn, “the higher, the better. When Elder F. Burton Howard told the story of his wife’’s silverware set, I knew we’d soon be seeing silverware for sale bearing his tagline, ‘‘If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.’’ On the other hand, when Susan Tanner, the Young Women general president, said that ‘‘the most crucial and fulfilling thing you will do is build a holy home and rear a strong family,’’ I knew we’d maybe see that on a cross-stitched pillowcase, if at all. No one’s ever managed to successfully market a female quote on a product over twenty dollars, except the occasional book.”
According to Buhn, the success of this conference’s product line can be attributed to several factors. “First, of course, is the fact that with the war, a lot of people were tuned in to conference for reassurance,” he said. “Also, this is the first conference in several years that hasn’’t provided some distraction. For instance, in recent years, we’’ve heard announcements about smaller temples, the Perpetual Education Fund, and new rules for missionary farewells. Don’’t get me wrong——those are all great things, but they don’t translate well into marketable brand images. I mean, how do you put the Perpetual Education Fund on a T-shirt?”


I cannot see why, given what is not merely acceptable, but encouraged as part of LDSism, that selling Ponderize t-shirts is somehow bad.  Or poor taste.  Or silly.  Bad, poor taste, and silly are not words any LDSist uses to describe the activities of General Authorities, no matter what; or of LDS people selling religious kitsch.  It seems like the only difference was the getting caught early in the game, by non-LDSers; rather than letting others profit from the phrase as well, so that it could become kitsch.  So, it’s not the act itself that was bad; it was who was involved.  And they were shamed in public.  And that says a lot about LDSism, and about its critics.

Enough Pondification, on that point.  Let me now proothifize it.

Why should Durrant even pother inventing a word like Ponderize?  What evidence does he have, in his understanding of “the scriptures,” that his unique term describes something new, or useful?  Is this the first time any of his ilk suggested one should memorize, and ponder?  Probably not.

So, why bother with the term?  It’s branding, I think.  Supposedly a way to make something memorable, and to identify it with something else, a phrase or a person.

General Authorities cannot make new doctrines, at least not explicitly (but do so implicitly all the time).  They cannot stray from what someone in Correlation deems to be the correct interpretation of “scripture.”  So we see in this new term what they can do: invent new tools for processing (e.g., Bednarian devices), or new names for the currently existing set of tools most readers already employ.  They can brand.

Ponderize should mean, rather than memorize-ponder, if we follow english grammar, to -ize what one ponders, just as memorize is to -ize what one (re)members (or “memors”).  But he isn’t following the rules everyone else plays by, so he has to explain how he came up with this term.  It’s a blend of two existing words, but a confusing blend at the suffix -ize.  That says something about power and authority, and how it flourishes in the arbitrary; in what is against the rules of the common man.

To -ize?  To make or to subject something to some process or treatment, e.g., legalize, homogenize, and so on.   To ponderize, if Durrant followed the rules familiar to English speakers, would mean, to make something pondered (or literally weighed); or to subject it to a process now branded with this -ize.  In the age of machines, most new -izes are of the second sort, and their makers do so merely to gain fame and fortune, I suppose.

This particular use of the -ize suffix is commonly found in managerial jargon.

In the non-ironically named website, ThoughtLeader,  a list of tired business jargon is given.  At the top of this list is … utilize.  Other -izes are found alongside jargon-phrases, but nearly every single word (rather than a phrase) that is its own jargon-term ends in -ize.  Indeed, the single comment on the page lists a few more phrases, and then adds this, in reductio mockery:

——-

Also annoying are those fabricated words ending in -ize (such as incentivize, genericize, monetize)

…which sparks some ideas for future incomprehensible management memos:
incubatize
deliverablize
partnerize
convergize
robusticize
granularitize
engagicize

———————-

So, we see something of their priesthood here, and its background from which it draws power and authority.  A jargon term is created by a standard business process to describe how one should process scripture, as though one were butchering a corpse.  Efficiently.  As though truth written or read really comes in packets, verses, chapters, words, and so on; rather than in waves of continuous light.  Truth and Light are not taken in by such a process, nor given in units.

His notion of memorizing and pondering is itself drawn from a world of accounting in standard, generic units and measuring their distribution, just as General Conference itself enacts this mesmerizing mystery of monetized capitalism (-ized isms are uniquely academic jargon): standard, generic units of power arranged from more to less, like a pile of coins, now in red chairs; valuable because of their arrangement; and listened to with the same accounting standards and concerns of efficiency, so that Mormons ask the evil questions, “Did that come the Prophet?” “Is that doctrine?” and “Is that author LDS?” and use one’s place on a pyramid to decide how true and powerful are those words.

Now, what about those t-shirts?

Clothing has long been used to identify one as a member of some group, class, race, gender, team, religion, and so on.  T-shirts are simply the cheapest way to do this, and printing an actual jargon-term on the shirt is the egregiously, heavy ham-fisted way of accomplishing such identification.  I recall a few years ago, sweat pants were often printed across the butt with various terms the person wearing the pants apparently wished others to say about him or her, “babe!” or “hot!” or “pornstar” or whatever, as they walked behind their behind.  Again, the most heavy handed way of introducing yourself, with a term you’d like another to say about you, printed on your butt.  Or your business card.  Generally, such trends die fast, because there is no secret in-group reading that develops, say, with knowing the new designer whose name is not actually printed across the shirt.  The real high end stuff doesn’t make itself known in such a manner, and so it works like any other secret handshake: to identify authentic members of the group using secret signs only given to members of the group.

But…what about calling yourself Elder So-and-so, and wearing a suit and tie to show one’s religious status?  Any different?  How so?  More expensive, and not explicit.  So that they who interpret the true signs of religious authority are now also a part of the secret group, even though generally of lesser power and might than are the men whose signs they interpret.

Powerful Rites

“What is that?”  If you have to ask, either you don’t trust me, or you don’t know.  It’s a sign of club membership.  If I have pierced your veil, you ought to know me.  And trust me.

If you have to explain, about your sash, that “It’s an emblem of my power and authority,” I would say, you have no power and authority, outside of your claim about such.  And outside of your display of ridiculous tokens that have no real connection to actual power.  If you have to call yourself a General Authority, in order to be one; and you have to talk at General Conference to get your word out, then you have no real power or authority whatsoever.

If you have to rely on family to create a website that sells shirts with a word you invented, in the paradigm-non-shift of managerial bullshit, you are not powerful, nor any author of anything whatsoever, other than of a word that points back to your own vanity.  Indeed, that is all your priesthood consists of: people saying it is so, and thus it is so.  That is not power of a heavenly sort, however, for marketers, politicians and managers use this fiat regularly for purposes spanning the moral spectrum, from the Evil to the Mundane; but rarely creative of the Good.  Ponderize is not capable of moving on its own, any more than their Restorationist gospel can move without the machines of Mammon.  Ponderize that.

thinking-monkey1

The Truth and Lying For the Lord

What harm comes from telling a lie about a supernatural experience?

What harm comes from letting others believe something you’ve said refers to a supernatural experience?

What if someone “converted” to or otherwise claimed to “believe in” Jesus as a result of said telling?

Take the case of the Boy Who Returned From Heaven.

A recent, relative landslide of boys claimed to have returned from Heaven, following a brief tour during some semi-dead state, to regale us with details of the happy faces and splendid colors found there.  Wonderful!  I can use this to teach about Heaven to my children!  Look, he went there, it must be real! Surely, a six year old boy wouldn’t lie about such dreadful and important things as God, life after death, and so on…

Well, enter a boy named, believe it or not, Malarkey.

Having told and perpetuated a lie for many years, and finding his lie not profiting himself nor his mother, said boy-now-teenager advises us to Get Right With The Bible, and blames others for having believed his tales about visiting and returning from Heaven.  No doubt there are details  I’m missing, some internal family struggles between Mom and Dad (now divorced, with Dad apparently profiting from the book’s publication), sectarian battles being fought over “extra-canonical” Heavenly tourist tales, and who gets paid for such.  Those banal human evils don’t figure into this as a case study in lying for the Lord.

So, what can we expect to happen now, should someone else come out and say, “Hey I really went to Heaven, and it looks like…”?  Well, we won’t say anything to that person, probably.  But if our friend tells us about his tale, he might well laugh, and say, “Man, didn’t you hear about Malarkey?”  What about all those parents who read Malarkey’s book to their children, hoping to convince them that Heaven is “for real”?  I can hear the laughter from the school playgrounds already.

Heaven

caption: “So, are you telling me the truth?”

 

Truth and Lies

Shame on you for believing, right?  But there’s more: Not only does his lie and confession of lying make the tales of others more likely to be doubted, both previous and subsequent tales.  It also makes people question the existence of God, Heaven, Life after Death, and so on.

A question, then: Should Mom  Malarkey have come out on her blog and vaguely notified someone reading it that maybe the story wasn’t all true?  The nature of evil, in this case, representing something that didn’t happen as if it did happen, can be seen not in the “false belief” engendered by the story, but in the greater evil that comes of the truth being told about the story.  Suddenly, telling the truth (in some fashion, apparently) adds huge power to the original lie.  How can its evil be stopped, thereafter?  Not with the truth, apparently.  Maybe truth and lies are not opposites, like fire and water?  Truth seems more closely connected with Power: to create, to endure, to grow.  Can Truth be used in a corrupting fashion?  Apparently.

Consider some comments on Mom Malarkey’s blog, which does not, however, very clearly say her son was telling a lie in the book.

—————————

Anonymous said…

I was about to read this book but decided to look at the reviews and background information before I started. I would like to start by saying, I am so sorry for your and your families hardships. I can’t even imagine going through such a trial. My purpose in commenting is just of pure curiosity …if the book was filled with such inaccuracies and lies then why not set the record straight with what truly happened? I am of LDS faith and so I am not using others NDE as a rock in which to build my faith but I am genuinely confused about what you and Alex consider inaccuracies within the book and what actually did happen. I did read that you don’t intend to write a book to right the wrongs of the previous book but it might be helpful to write a blog post explaining what really did happen. I’m not interested in the glamour of what lies beyond because I believe I have a testimony of what lies beyond the veil and the true story of what happened to Alex would be more helpful then hurtful to those who have read or are contemplating reading the book.

Anonymous said…

Beth,
I am glad that I borrowed the book and didn’t pay for it. I read “the” book in one day. After finishing it, I did a Google search to see how Alex was doing today. To my disappointment I found your link within the top three.

I was ticked off to say the least, mostly because I had been had. Fooled.

I am not going through anything traumatic. I am not looking for a blessing. I am though like many people searching for, Jesus.

NDE’s have always intrigued me, and have made Jesus seem to be more tangible. Stories like these are always thought provoking, but I never take them as Gospel.

After reading your blog I wonder why you don’t sue the writer and publisher, especially as it seems that legal documents were never passed between publisher and Alex.Also, if the book is stated as being true, but Alex never had the experiences that are written, then wouldn’t this be defamation, especially where it is against your religious beliefs.

There are many questions on both sides. But only God can and will judge.

I pray for you, Alex and your family for joy and peace.

Anonymous said…

My sister died in 1970 when I was seven. One sad night shortly thereafter,I made up a story that I felt her touch my hand when I was in my mother’s bed. My mother whole heartedly believed my lie, and shared it with family, friends and clergy. I was mortified! When I came clean a few years later it was nearly impossible to convince her that I had made it up. Just recently she referred to my “experience” again! I couldn’t believe I had to convince that it did not happen all over again. No wonder people are able to profit from deception. The living God has spoken. Believe Him! 2 Tim. 2:15, 2 Tim 3:16,17

—————————————–

Fixing, or Retelling A Story?

How does one “fix” or undo an evil like this?  How do you redeem (re-doom, re-declare, re-sentence) one from the Fall?  Not by telling the truth about lying, as in a confession, “Oh, yeah, I totally lied about X, but believe me now…”  Certainly not by telling folks to go read their bibles, cuz its fulla truth.  You lied about God, sure, but I’ll totally believe you when you say to go read this other book about God.  No way did they lie back then.

So, it seems that Lies and Truth are not in the same category of things, one cannot fix the other, like antacid might relieve heartburn.  How does Malarkey fix this lie?  I can only see it will take lifetimes of effort to undo the evil of telling lies about God: meeting Him, having lunch with Him, delivering messages for Him.  Don’t do such things, unless you’d like your hereafter pretty well booked up for nigh unto Eternity.

The same can be said for vague insinuations of having met God, or talked with Him, and so on, as I’ve talked about before on this blog     .

What all these lies and quasi-lies tell us, is that we don’t know very much about the being we call God.  As a result, we are apt to be deceived.  Not “likely to be deceived,” but “apt,” as in, “appropriate or suitable to the circumstances.”  Moreover, we cannot know about God (the being referred to by that word) by hearing other people use that word.  We can make statements about knowledge, and the ways to gain such, but it’s a gamble to believe another person’s claims about God.  When you make the gamble, the test of their truth comes in living according to those beliefs.  Or so we are told.

Well, what if someone says, “Believe in God, go to this building five times a week, give that guy your money, and don’t eat food on Thursdays, and he’ll bless you.”  And, being no fool, you ask, “What do you mean, ‘bless’?”  And he says, “You’ll make $100k a year until you die.”  Even if such a thing happens, that doesn’t mean the story the Someone told you is true.  If I was a Liar from the Beginning, I would go around giving folks definitions of blessings concerned with things I could provide, in some manner; or encourage them to speak vaguely about things I could not provide.

I would also tell them about the “Real Jesus,” by pointing out their belief in the “Fake Jesus.”  Strangely, you can actually get results by searching for “Fake Jesus.”  I don’t even know what that phrase means.

Why does Fake Jesus look like he’s being scolded, and Real Jesus look like a mug shot?

 

How can we know the Truth?  A feeling somehow “given” in response to an inquiry?  We’d have to come up with something no person could provide, or fake, nor anything imitated or otherwise provided by Liars in any order of being.  Probably that Something is not a something we can Get, Earn, or otherwise Bring About (see the post on Cargo Cults, for more).  Yet, if we came up with it, clearly we have some notion of it; meaning, scratch that thing you came up as a sign of the truth from God.  In other words, the “truth” is not something we can “know” in the sense you can know where France is on a map, or know your friend’s phone number.

We have a definition of Truth, as knowledge of things as they were, are, and shall be.  Odd, isn’t it, that “knowledge” is included in the definition of Truth?  Wouldn’t that mean that to speak of “knowledge of the truth” would be like saying, “knowledge of the knowledge of”?  Nonsense, it seems.  We then would need to introduce other signs of verification (feelings, authoritative voices, and so on) which themselves require verifications and authorizations, ad infinitum.  No wonder folks despair, given this model of Truth.  And that infinite hierarchy of super awesome powerful beings.

Truth as Something Else

We are asked to believe in God, that he is a God of Miracles, and to hope, and to be longsuffering, patient, and so on.  To send rain on the just and unjust, to bless those that curse us, and many other actions which would identify us as the Children of God.  Notice that in these admonitions from the Book of Mormon and from D&C, we are not told to expect any payment in return for our good deeds.  Maybe we don’t “earn” our way to that, no matter how much rain we send, but we learn about God by acting as His children?  Fairly obvious, but there’s something about Truth that remains to be said.

The Truth is not referred to in our words.  It is or is not __ our words, just as it is or is not __ our imaginations, is or is not __ the world.  If you want to add “In” in the blank, or some other preposition, to make those sentences more understandable, go ahead, but know that you have added something I did not.

Now, given all that I’ve warned about people claiming such and such about God, let me add this:

What I Believe

It is somewhat artificial to even say, “I believe such and such,” but that artifice is not avoided by replacing “believe” with “know.”  I’d say we make things worse by using verbs that ordinarily we wouldn’t use, without feeling like we were sort of lying a bit.  Rather than list some set of “beliefs,” instead I will write some words that relative to my experience, are true.  That “are” means, “in the sense of being,” as in, “You are happy.”  Happy is not some quality separate from you that “fills” you up, but is you, for some time.  Not only some part of you, say, your left leg, either, but You.

The being we call Jesus is the Eternal Father, who condescends to “be” a god, or a “man” or a “spirit” or whatever.  He is creating with these other beings he condescends to become, and among the greatest and wisest and goodest of these beings long ago of the order of Gods was Michael, otherwise called by Mormons, Adam.  When Jesus speaks of the Father, he is speaking of Michael-Adam.

Michael and his consort had “spirit children” and also at some point, created also something like “man” children.  Other “men” were brought to this world by Jesus.  Conflict between these children has ruined the House, and Michael refuses to take up his abode with his children, permanently, until they are united and restored to knowledge.  Knowledge about what?  Not the right question, probably.

Michael is a man.  Not a God who once was a Man, briefly; or who just looks mannish; but a Man who sits enthroned in yonder heavens.  A man, different in apparently important ways, but not different in any way that would make him not-a-man but of some other order of being.  Our destiny is not to “become Gods,” but to become just men made perfect, complete, united spirit and flesh; and this is the “goal” (without putting it too crudely) of even the Gods (good ones, anyway).  Being a God is dangerous, as shown by one called Lucifer.  Becoming man is less so, for we won’t likely labor under the delusion that we are “Like Unto” Jesus.  He became a man, not merely like unto one, and was resurrected as a man (not a God).  Gods don’t die, and can’t be resurrected.  But here they can be born, and their children (existing here as “spirits”) can be born again.  Have ye been spiritually reborn?  Maybe that isn’t a question we can ask to just anyone, but is asked of a group of beings who had once been born as “spiritual children” in this world.

Men are spirits pretending to be human.  As spirits, we were not created, but did enter this world “In the Beginning.”  We won’t have an end, either.  We can be born, and born again in some other order of being.  At some point, however, we will be satisfied with ourselves, and will no more die, nor be born again, and yet we will remain mankind.  Then the House is restored, and all are alike, but not the same.

Well, Let Me Take A Position On What You’ve Written!

Have I told a lie?  Not at all.  That word does not apply, in standard usage, to the above sentences.  I don’t “know” otherwise, nor do I claim to “know” the above is “true.”

Truth?  Don’t decide on any basis other than the words’ meaning.  What evidence can I muster?  An absurd question, maybe, treating the above paragraph as if it was a position I maintain in a debate on, say, whether triangles have three sides or not.  How could I demonstrate the logic of my reasoning, and the validity of my conclusion?  I’ve not made a conclusion.  I told a story.  The peace it gives means, I suppose, I have no ambition to compel others to believe it.  Even writing it up now, on this blog, takes effort (and so, errors may enter, or sin, as well); whereas the story has being in me, without compulsion.

And not by my authority, should you decide or believe or whatever; nor by the arrangement of the sentences, nor the big words I use, or my degree, or anything else not in the words’ meaning.  Not because God told me so (he didn’t).  I won’t even allow you to assume an angel visited me and told me this.  That didn’t happen, as far as I know. I didn’t half-die, and go on a heavenly tour.

It either is, or is not Truth.  And you don’t have to decide, for reality is what it is, regardless of what anyone thinks about it.  But maybe soon I’ll give my reading of Moses and Abraham, and prove it to you.  Just kidding.

 

Scripture Fun! An Often Confused Report

Some Comments on a writing attributed to Moses, via Joseph Smith:

Chapter 6, verse 55: And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. 56 And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.

57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.

Now, it is clear that the Lord is telling Adam what to say to Adam’s children.  And these children are told that Men may inherit the Kingdom of God, but under strict conditions: namely, they cannot dwell there, except they repent.  As if his children cannot bring them to the kingdom, until they repent.  How can they repent?  Adam (now honored with the title, Man of Holiness) is then given a command to teach “these things,” that is, the following, to his children.  He is to give the text exactly, as if the Lord is scripting Adam’s words to his own children (in contrast to the above teaching about Men):

58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:
59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water and blood; and the spirit which I [Adam] have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

Adam is speaking of himself, using words given to him by the Lord.  He is talking to his children, who were born(e) into the world by water and blood, and the spirit Adam made, living souls now become “of dust.”  Like Men, who must repent, his children “must be born again into the Kingdom of Heaven,” and this time, they will do so by being born also into the kingdoms of water and of the spirit, and by taking on blood which will cleanse.  Whose blood?  Not Adam’s blood.  Not yet, anyway.  The blood of “Mine only begotten,” that is, Adam’s only begotten (who just happens to be giving this script to Adam).  Need a breather?

Thus, Adam here learns about the Lord, from the Lord: how salvation will come to men, who must repent, and also will come to his own children, at this time beings of spirit become of dust (but needing rebirth as Men).  They will enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and the world to come, and immortal glory.  And so, Adam gives his children (not Men, not yet, anyway), the record of heaven, the comforter, and so on (These Children are either the Record of Heaven, or are given it):

60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; 61 Therefore it is given to abide in you, the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.

Adam’s children are given these gifts, and then Adam tells them about men, too.  He is to tell them what he was just taught by the Lord about repentance, rebirth, blood and salvation.  And this no doubt surprisingly revelation: that he, Adam, is their father as well, of the spiritual and temporal:

62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time. 63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me [Adam], both things which are temporal [Men], and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

Here the script Adam is given by the Lord, and which he is to say to his children finally concludes.  Thus, Adam is the first to carry out the new plan and commandment, concerning men and his own spiritual heirs:

64 And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.

Is the story more true because I have tied it to “scripture”?  Or less true because I didn’t say, “An angel told me so”?  I’m just looking at who is talking to whom.  I could be wrong, obviously.  The comforter is not necessarily given to Men at that time, which is why Jesus seems to make something of a big deal about giving it to Men, after the Lord resurrects as a Man.  Who must be born again? Not Men, but the children of God, at that time spirits by their own fall “become of dust.”  Many different “families of the earth” are to unite under Michael, raised up as their Father by the Lord known to us as Jesus. 

Some scripture chase questions: Where did the original fathers of men come from?  What was Adam’s transgression?  Why did Eve declare Cain “A man got from the Lord”?  Was he of a different order of being than was Able, and the later Seth?    What was the fate of his children who refused this rebirth, and what of their redemption?  Does baptism figure in, if so, how?  Discuss how to apply this symbolic principle to your daily lives.


Voice and Author-ity

A man woke in the middle of the night, and had many thoughts.  Let’s call him Tim.  He returned to sleep and in the morning he told the neighbors, “Skeletor woke me last night, and told me to go about doing bad things.”  The neighbors wondered at this saying, but figured the man was telling a joke.

skele_01

The next night, the man again awoke, not of his own accord, and realized that again Skeletor had come and was giving much knowledge and instruction.  “Skeletor came again last night, woke me up and told me to start an Evil Horde,” he explained to his neighbors.  They went away wondering, did this Skeletor really come and wake him?  And if so, what might we do to enjoy his loud laughter and evil speaking of Eternia’s anointed?

We might ask some questions of this would-be disciple of Skeletor.

First, when you say, “Skeletor awoke me last night,” you mean you saw him, in the violet anger of his person, and looked upon his yellowed skull face?

So, he put his hand on you, shook you gently, and then roughly, whispering, “Man, wake up.  Hey, wake up.”  And you said, “Huh, wha?  who’s there…huh…mumblemumble…AHHH, Skeletor!!!”

And Skeletor said, “That’s right, fool!  Now I have awakened you, and I require you to do my evil bidding!”

he-man_and_the_masters_of_the_universe_1983_skeletor2

And you said, “Hey, that’s totally cool, but it’s like 3 am.  I mean, I can’t do a whole lot of evil bidding right now.  I’m in my underwear, ahem, non-magical, as you’ve now heard; my hair’s a mess, and like, I gotta thing I gotta do.  You know, maybe come back in the morning?”

And Skeletor answered, “Fool! I have chosen you to restore the Evil Horde.  Look upon my face.  It is yellow and skully, and although I don’t have lips, yet I can pronounce my words without impediment.  It’s because I possess the power of Skeletor.  Feel my skull face, and my purple muscles.”

And you said, “dude, why don’t you come back later?  It’s like 3 in the morning.  But if that’ll get you out my bed, I guess I can feel your skull face.  Yeah, it’s a skull face alright.”

“Hah hah hah hah hah!!!”

he-man_and_the_masters_of_the_universe_1983_skeletor

So, we ask, was it like that?

No, the man replies, I mean I conversed with him in my mind, as he is wont to do.  But he was in your room? we ask.  Yes.  And you saw him?  Not with my natural eyes.  With which eyes, then?  In my mind’s eye.  Not in your skull?  So, you woke up, had some thoughts, and attributed them to a cartoon villain pictured in your mind, who had specially chosen you to restore the Evil Horde?  Yes.

Of course, we would say this man is misusing ordinary language.

When he says, “the Lord of Evil came to me,” he means, “I had some thoughts or feelings I attributed to Skeletor.”  When he claims, “Skeltor woke me up,” he means, “I woke up, and since I am not conscious of myself waking myself, I attributed that as an effect of a cartoon villain who had wondered into my room from the world of Filmation.”  He is asking us to do the interpretive work, or not.

Why not just describe things as they happened, rather than as he repaints them?

Others eager to hear from Skeletor might decide that perhaps this man has been chosen to bring back the Evil Horde, for it is possible, isn’t it?  What might I do, they inquire, in order to enjoy Skeletor’s nighttime wake-up call and special invitation?

Perhaps you must be X, Y, and Z.  Surely Skeletor doesn’t just visit anyone, as he pleases.  He is a busy villain, and wouldn’t waste his time hanging out with just anyone.  There must be something special about his chosen.

What seems be the deciding moment is when one decides to describe events in terms not entirely faithful to the reality experienced.  There is dishonesty in requiring others to unlock one’s words, and to show they mean something rather less definite than the picture they conjure up.  What would we call a man who says, “I saw an alien ship in the sky!”  Yet, after questioning, we learn he means, “I saw a cloud that looked like what I figure alien ships look like”?  If we must ask further questions to find out his words mean other than what we might call their “literal” meaning, we might say he is deceiving us.

Ah, the poet’s license: William Blake often said he spied angels here and there, but he was a poet, and did not credit these angels with having specific names and giving him practical instruction about how to act in this world, except in a general way he’d call “good.”  In cases like Blake’s we can leave unresolved whether he “really” saw angels or not.  Whatever he saw, he called them angels.

Tim’s case in the parable is different in an important way.

We could say to Tim, “You may attribute any author to your thoughts, to your unconscious actions, to pictures in your head.  But why not attribute them to a lesser being, rather than the greater?  Why must the Lord of Darkness be their author, rather than, say, Modulok or Chad?  Did he say something only Skeletor would say?”

Modulokplayed by Lou Scheimer  Chadplayed by Linda Gary

Surely, there are other beings in Eternia eager to converse with us, and why must every thought and waking up be credited to Skeletor?

In fact, why bother assigning an author to the voices in our head?  Except that by an author we hope to give our words authority?  The, “I heard from so-and-so” turn that presents some face as a mask to cover investigation into the merit our words?

But doesn’t the truth come whatever its source, and carry its own influence?  Do these voices really have an author?  Or is it more like a drawing using another being’s words, and those words are read from a script written by a team of writers, drawing on their own experiences with other voices, and so on?  Who, then, is the author?  A drawing named Chad?

Why say “Skeletor,” except that one can now begin an assault on Castle Greyskull, seeking for its power and throne?  Leaving aside obvious obligations to cite published authors in order to give credit, and avoid charges of plagiarism, Why can’t we just report something, a notion, a thought, an inspiration, and not assign an author when we don’t really have an author’s name or face to reference?

Of course, I am aware that some readers will instead be asking, “Is Daymon talking about X, Y, or Z?”  I am talking about this way of talking, regardless of who does it.

 

Note: Also, I am not denying the possibility of supernatural visitors.  In my own Cultural History I describe some invasions of my personal space by powerful thoughts, let’s call them; which I attributed to various named individuals.  Yet in no case did they instruct me to do such and such, except as it related to something I had written.  Mostly correcting me. There the invasion seemingly concluded.  Had I simply said, B.H. Roberts came to me, and told me what to write, I’d be, I think, less than truthful.  He didn’t tell me what to write, but some thoughts I’d describe as “not my own” suggested what I’d written was not quite right.

The question, of course, is: How do we decide which thoughts are “ours” and which to attribute to some other mind-invading entity?  Or, maybe the better question: Why bother assigning names and sources to thoughts?

Isn’t it enough we have good ones, and bad ones?  If a thought or sentence persuades us to do good, we can say it came from Christ.  Does that mean I can say, “Christ told me to do, say, feel, such-and-such”?  I don’t think so.  If I read C.S. Peirce, and his writings inform my thoughts, it would clearly be untruthful to say, “Peirce is telling me what to think,” except as I make it clear I mean, “The writings of Peirce, not the actual man.”

By talking as our Tim has in the parable, moreover, we make it more likely others will doubt someone else’s claims about really being visited by Skeletor, leaving them always in doubt that maybe this someone too was speaking metaphorically, or adding interpretation to description.  Adding an author does not dissolve our unbelief, rather it promotes it, and builds on the power of their name.  It would be more honest to not designate an author where we don’t have a face or a name.  Instead, we could speak of what was said, thought, felt, heard, and so on, and decide the merits of their meaning without worry of offending Skeletor or Chad.  This is an Article of Faith, perhaps.

 

New Doctrine: Thou Shalt Be Ordained, My Daughter

In an obscure bit of history, I provide this transcript I found after many seconds of searching. 

It concerns a certain woman, who desiring to be ordained to preach, was told the following. 

 

Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom.

A revelation I give unto you concerning my will:

And if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion. Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called. Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.

And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness. And thou shalt go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe, while there is no one to be a scribe for him, that I may send my servant, whithersoever I will.

And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit. For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much. And thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee in the church; for unto them is his calling, that all things might be revealed unto them, whatsoever I will, according to their faith. And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

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Of course, she was not “given” the Priesthood by this ordination, because “the Priesthood” didn’t yet exist as something one could pass around to other folks, not yet, anyway.  That special combination of power and office, so useful for purposes of mystifying the mind, would not come into The Church of Christ until the Campbellite-Restorations of Morley’s Farm took up the name of Mormons a few months after the text above was spoken.  For details, consult

The Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, Volume One: Setting, A Foundation, Of stones to stumble over.