Love

(It's the law)


     
     
     Every time I start to write this, it quickly grows to book proportions, and I don't really have that kind of time, especially for what's supposed to be an epistle. You don't have the kind of time to read an entire book right here, right now, either. So, I'm going to take a different tack, and lead with a concise, bullet-point presentation, followed, maybe later, by a more exhaustive explanation.
     
     Scripture's legal nature, and necessarily precise languages
     out of the books which have/shall be written, shall this people be judged
     https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/27.23-26?lang=eng#p22
     Crucial terms and concepts are precisely defined in legal documents
     Faith
     Also misunderstood
     Read Lectures on Faith
     = Belief system (whether correct or incorrect)
     Love (nurturing)
     Charity (Pure nurturing of Christ)
     Truth (what was, is, and will be)
     Repentance (a change of heart/mind)
     Also a growth process illustrated in …
     Faith, hope, and charity (bumper sticker)
     Sermon on the Mount (elevator speech)
     The Book of Enos (Reader's Digest)
     Remaining scripture (The missing/dummies manual)
     Well-known and documented issues with language
     Paul's mission to counter all these issues
     Gives us many of our definitions
     Defines charity through its negative
     Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
     Spiritual gifts are not to be equated with charity
     though I have the gift of prophecy
     understand all mysteries
     have all knowledge
     have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
     Knowledge is not to be equated with charity
     though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
     Self-sacrifice is NOT the same as charity
     And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
     Generosity is not to be equated with charity
     And this is a real problem because generosity is still universally understood to be the very definition of charity
     But Paul says otherwise
     But Paul doesn't really define charity either. Instead, he gives us the attributes of one's own charity:
     suffereth long
     is kind
     envieth not
     vaunteth not itself
     is not puffed up
     Doth not behave itself unseemly
     seeketh not her own
     is not easily provoked
     thinketh no evil
     Rejoiceth not in iniquity
     rejoiceth in the truth
     Beareth all things
     believeth all things
     hopeth all things
     endureth all things
     never faileth
     prophecies shall fail
     tongues shall cease
     knowledge shall vanish away
     Ignorance, arrogance, and pride leading us to think we know more than we actually know
     Charity is universally believed to be exactly what Paul claim it is not, but with feeling, intent, or a cherry-on-top, or something never quite defined
     The value of tabulated knowledge
     Like repentance, love is a process best illustrated with a table
     Structure (having a plan)
     Discipline (sticking to the plan)
     Motivation (a reason to stick to the plan)
     Love (giving someone a reason to stick to the plan)
     Charity (giving someone the best reasons to stick to the best plan, the plan of salvation)
     Reproving betimes [immediately] [justice delayed is justice denied] with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love [engagement NOT distance] toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy
     https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/121.43?lang=eng#p42
     Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor
     https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/82.19?lang=eng#p18
     This web-site is an act of charity.
     
     I've long been obsessed with puzzles, and this has manifested itself in obvious ways, such as my trade as an 'enterprise database developer', but also in less obvious ways, such as my fascination with language. Now, that's not to say that I speak a dozen languages; I don't. What fascinates me about language is how we use and process it, how the written and spoken word evolved, as well as what the ancients themselves had to say about the matter, such as the near universal belief in the tower, and the once common, Adamic language, a concept, which, by the way, modern linguist just can't seem to shake.
     
     
     
     Out of this obsession grew a fascination with the process by which language changes. And, if you're anywhere near my age, you've probably already noticed some big changes in our language just since we were children, not just through the addition of new (although unnecessary) words, such as bling, the corruption of words, such as how bad came to mean good, and entirely new concepts, such as meme and skeuomorphism.
     
     The fact is that most of what we learn is learned the same way we learned to speak. And how was that? Actually, it's a testimony to the brilliance of God's creation that we're able to simply observe others, and mimic their use of language, eventually mastering it. Well, maybe not master, but close enough for all practical purposes. Be sure to read my article on AES for more about this.
     
     Anyway, by the time I was attending Institute, it became apparent to me that this method of learning harbored a major flaw, and that flaw was that if those you learn from do not themselves have a firmer grasp on the subject than you, then you will confused, even mislead. This has actually happened to me a few times, to hilarious effect, so it's a subject near and dear to my heart.
     
     Furthermore, it became apparent to me that even educated people that I relied on for information were passing along hearsay, mostly unaware that they were doing so. They were, and are, asleep at the wheel. I have to, once again, salute Hugh Nibley here for his frequent complaints that the word, spiritual, is the most abused in the LDS vocabulary.
     
     Suddenly, I understood why Paul spilled so much ink: He was trying to more precisely define words and concepts for the saints and for others. We see this perhaps nowhere so obviously as in his famous definition of charity.
     
     The first question we must ask ourselves is why Paul was doing this. It seems obvious, he says at the end of the previous chapter that he's going to show us a more excellent way. More excellent than what? A more excellent path to the gifts of the spirit. And what are those gifts? Wisdom. Knowledge. Faith. (And there is a relationship, but more on that another time.) Miracles. Prophecy. Discernment. LANGUAGES!
     
     These all come down to knowledge! More importantly, they're given for the benefit of all. Freely. Because we are all of the same body, the body of Christ. And that body can't be complete without all the gifts. And now you know why we're called members.
     
     But notice in particular 12:15 - “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” No matter your gifts. No matter your calling. You are an equal member, requiring the same care.
     
     What care?
     
     That is what Paul steps into next.
     
     Remember, he's writing to Greeks. The Greeks have their own language, and they're struggling with the translation. Perhaps you've heard of the Greeks' four words for love. Just as today, there was confusion even then about which word was meant, and even what each word really meant. But now, thanks to the occupying Romans, yet another word has crept into the mix: Charity.
     
     And here's our problem!
     
     We have the proper translation (agape), and even some general definitions of its meaning, such as “divine love”, “the pure love of Christ”, even “Christian love in its highest manifestation”, but that's just circular (il)logic.
     
     And therein lies the second reason Paul takes such pains to sort this all out for us: The scriptures are legal documents, the books from which we will be judged. So it's very important that we get this right. And he feels the weight of responsibility for teaching us. After all, it simply won't do for us to destroy ourselves and/or our civilization through lawlessness, mistakenly thinking we're following scripture all the way down, when, in fact, we've deceived only ourselves.
     
     There are fine, but clear differences in the words, and they must be understood. As such, scripture must be exceedingly, even pedantically precise in its meaning. And this often requires that scripture define its own terms, just as we see truth defined, in D&C 93:24>, as KNOWLEDGE of things as they are, and as they were, AND AS THEY ARE TO COME.
     
     So, the next time you hear someone say that they're ‘looking for truth', give it to them. Hand them that definition, and see how they react.
     
     So, that's the introduction.
     
     Now for the
     
     aware that I could not define the word, love, for an upcoming talk I'd been assigned to deliver. And, given my penchant for puzzles, this just would not do. So I began researching, using the tools we'd been given: First, think it through. Figure out what you do or don't know. Then hit the books. Read church magazines. Then, if you still aren't sure, go to the Lord in prayer and fasting.
     
     Guess what!
     
     I didn't even get out of the topical guide before I found myself on my knees.
     
     None of this made any sense.
     
     Given John's assertion that "God is love", along with the thousands of other words of scripture describing that love in action over millennia, one might think lessons on love in church about as rare as yodeling classes in a maternity ward. Still we keep hearing them, and not just about love, but a host of other topics, too. And that should tell us something. Sure, sure, there are always new eyes and ears to train, but weren't they brought up in this tradition? What's it going to take? Shouldn't we be ready to move up to the next level by now? "Perhaps", comes the response, "but certainly all are well-served by reminders, too." And that would be fair enough; the oft-used key remains bright, but is it really a reminder when so wide of the mark? Is it really a reminder if it only adds to the confusion? Or fails to answer the key question?
     
     And what would that be? And could this be the real reason we have to keep coming back to this topic? It has not been satisfactorily handled for any of us. It's an open question.
     
     Hugh Nibley used to complain frequently in class that the word, spiritual, was the most abused in the LDS vocabulary. I've come to agree.
     
     As I listen to many, many members expounding on their faith in church, it becomes clear to me that, while they are using all the right words, they are using the wrong dictionary. It's like they learned their religion from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary. (https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/865289-the-cynic-s-word-book) They just don't know what they're talking about, but they think they do. They're actually saying something completely different from what people like me would, at first blush, think that they're saying. And they do this because they've heard so many others do it before them. And they're all wrong together. And the entire problem came from NON-LDS sources saying things like Swedenborg did.
     
     And all one need do is look at who some of his disciples were: Johnny Appleseed. Read up about the man. You'll find another example of a lot of people repeating things they think they know, when, in fact, they don't. Johnny Appleseed, if people knew him better, would be no American folk hero.
     
     And it's not just Swedenborg. There are a lot of them, like Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale, and many others. And I've found the problem as far back as Philo of Alexandria, and traces of the problem all the way back to the beginning.
     
     Love just doesn't mean what people think it means. Neither do the words, faith, hope, charity (Paul even spilled a lot of ink over this one, and it did no good at all), spirit, salvation, exaltation, feeling, mercy, grace, redemption, and more. And, not knowing these things, and using modern misinterpretations of those words, members go about deceiving one another into believing the most fantastic things.
     
     It's not for nothing that Satan is called the father of lies.
     
     Love
     
     I know. I know. I promised to write about idolatry, and we will get there, but I didn't really finish with the word, love, yet. After all, I did say that it would take a lot of time, which I ran out of last time.
     
     So, to review, love is not like, not even intense liking. Love is about growing, nurturing, promoting, building, expanding ... perfecting. This is what the parable of the talents is really all about.
     
     Love is a process. It's not as simple as just promoting. There are steps involved, and I detailed those: Structure, Discipline, Motivation, Love, and Charity. Notice what words are not inherently a part of that process: Nice, Pleasant, Flattering. These are not necessarily anathema to love, but they are also NOT synonymous with it, just as Paul tried to explain about charity.
     
     This is how it is possible, easy even, to do some of those seemingly impossible things that Christ requires of us, like loving our enemies. This difference between the worldly and scriptural meanings of the word were what prompted Brigham Young to explain that 'we can not love hell'. And that makes sense in both senses, doesn't it? Surely no one would 'like' hell. And, hopefully, no one wants to see hell any bigger or more powerful than it already is.
     
     So, how does one love an enemy? Well, there's a lot of scriptural and logical support for the idea that, bringing that enemy to repentance is about the best thing that can be done for them. Now, wouldn't that certainly be an act of love? Notice that Ammon went to the Nephites' sworn enemies in order to convert them. That's the example that everyone LIKES to focus on, but what about Captain Moroni? He's the one who got Mormon's greatest praise. How did he handle the Lamanites? He killed them. Was that an act of love? Look to the process! Did the prospect of death motivate the Lamanites to repentance? We see clear evidence that it did. Thus, Captain Moroni loved his enemies. Surgically.
     
     This is also how we 'love one another as Christ loved us'. Yes, that would be the same Christ who 'rebuked the evil spirit in the man', the very Christ of whom his own disciples, we are told, so often feared to ask anything, the Christ who dismissed the Canaanite women as a ... little/female dog, the same Christ who beat people, with a weapon, and destroyed their property, in full view of the public. TWICE!
     
     And they all grew through this. Peter learned to stop pandering after being rebuked by Christ. Paul learned to open his eyes to the obvious, after being blinded by Christ. Everyone learned to think for themselves after being blinded by Christ. (SORRY! I'm cheating here. I know you don't know what I'm talking about here. We'll come back to this later. But I wanted to start you thinking.)
     
     This also helps us to understand Christ's almost allergic aversion to money. When he said that the 'love' of money is the root of all evil, given what I've shown you about the meaning of love, we now can see that he's addressing not only those who want a lot of money, but, more especially those who promote money.
     
     Ever heard the phrase, 'the growth of money'?
     
     Can you say Wall Street?
     
     But what is money?
     
     NOT gold.
     
     Not necessarily, anyway. What money really is isn't even coins. You see, if we press gold into coins, all we're doing is taking something that has intrinsic value (its 'melt' value) and certifying it. And regulating weights and measures is one of the powers granted our federal government by our Constitution.
     
     No, what money really is is something which has only perceived, or 'agreed upon' value. The paper in your pocket is literally not even worth the paper it's printed on. If it weren't for our government's stability and power, that money would be good for nothing more than tinder.
     
     And that's what money really is: Fiction. Lies. Government control and power over the interactions among mankind.
     
     And that's why Christ said to let Caesar have his filthy lucre. We don't need it. We shouldn't use it. Gold is fine. Trade is fine. But even that can be monitored, metered, and taxed by government. And the whole point of Christ's admonition to love one another instead of money was all, very clearly about depriving government of its ability to divide us.
     
     After all, the defining characteristic of Zion is unity. To be of one heart, and one mind.
     
     How will we help one another get there if not by 'tough' love? After all, 'soft' love doesn't really seem to be producing any results.
     
     Or am I reading it wrong?
     
     Ok, continuing with my previous promise to explain the terminology of the scriptures in the context of the scriptures themselves, is the 'word of the day': Love.
     
     I would really rather not tackle this word first, simply because some other terms need clarification first before love can be properly understood, but this is the one word which is most pivotal to all other concepts. After all, as John says, God *IS* love. And therein the beginning of our clarifications.
     
     Look at what John says: "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.", and "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.", as well as others. But what he is saying not really so much what we would call a dictionary definition, but rather reinforcing an association just as I did above with the *IS*. God isn't just the personification of love. God *IS* love. (because he not only exemplifies love, but actually embodies it)
     
     But this does NOT DEFINE LOVE!
     
     Remember the old thing you learned in school that says that you can't define a word by itself? Well that's a true rule, and a good rule. So, to say that God is love is a tautology, and, thus, a logical fallacy IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A DEFINITION. It is true. But it is NOT a definition.
     
     So, what then is love?
     
     Let's look at how it's used.
     
     Abraham loves his son, Isaac. Hmmm... no definition here.
     
     "And Isaac ... took Rebekah, ... and he loved her..." Not a definition, but certainly supporting evidence. Data. Assimilation.
     
     Isaac loves savory meat.
     Jacob loved Rachel, and loved her more than Leah.
     Shechem loved Dinah (a little out of order).
     
     Ok. Now it gets serious. We have not only love, but also hate to contrast with it.
     
     "... I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
     
     Aha! ... love me, and keep my commandments. I've read that somewhere else: "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
     
     Is that what love is? Obedience to? To what? How does keeping the commandments love God? How does that work? Could it simply be that God is in no need of anything from us, so the only thing remaining for us to do for him is to obey him? That reminds me of another scripture: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
     
     See? Once again, what could we possibly do for God? NOTHING! BUT ... for his other children ... for them we can do something. But what shall we do for them? Love them? FINE! BUT WE STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS!
     
     Ok, but, all this has skipped us forward to the New Testament, where there's even more talk of love than in the Old Testament. And Christ even commands us there to "... love one another, as I have loved you."
     
     Ok, well, that brings us right back to what John said about God *IS* love. So, how did Christ love his disciples? (Since that's whom he was addressing at the time.)
     
     Luke 9:45 "But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying."
     
     Ok, first of all, this is still fairly early in his ministry, and his own disciples 'feared to ask' him what he meant when he said, "... the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men."
     
     Why did they fear to ask him anything? Were they bashful? That doesn't seem to wash with the 'sons of thunder' pretty brazenly asking to walk his road with him. Nor does it wash with Simon brandishing his sword, even cutting off the ear of the soldier. And then there's Peter, who never seems to be bashful about anything, except owning Christ before the Sanhedrin. These guys aren't bashful. They're actually timid about asking Christ to clarify anything he says. Why? Because they have experience with him.
     
     Remember when the tax-collector cornered Peter? What did Christ tell Peter? ".. when he was come into the house, Jesus *PREVENTED* [this is a physical act, and not the only one Christ was known for] him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?" This is a pretty blunt correction, and not at all atypical.
     
     In fact, when Nicodemus comes to Christ, ***under cover of night*** (in other words, he's up to no good), how does he approach Christ? (And WHERE?) "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."
     
     That's blatant flattery. First he comes under cover of night, and he opens with flattery. But how does Christ respond? Does he say something like, "OH! I am so relieved. I was afraid you guys thought I was some dummy!" No. Does he say, "Well, thank you. I really appreciate the recognition." No. Christ responds as if he hadn't heard a thing, totally ignoring what Nicodemus is up to, and changing the topic to something that would do Nicodemus some real good. And, in the process, once again basically points to the mission of his cousin, John the Baptist.
     
     And how does it go then? Christ tries to explain, and Nicodemus challenges him. It's not a sincere desire to understand. Nicodemus is dismissing Christ. 'How can a grown man be born again!" (That's ridiculous!) But Christ shuts him down with 'Look! You're salvation is at stake! Stop worrying about what you think makes sense, and accept the facts. After all, you haven't got a clue what the spirit does.' Nicodemus: "GARBAGE!" Christ (echoing Abinadi): "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"
     
     This is NOT a friendly confrontation. Nicodemus came for devious reasons, and got into an argument with Christ. And Christ even ended it by exposing Nicodemus' motives for being there in the first place:
     
     "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen (we know what we're talking about); and ye receive not our witness (but you-all just won't listen). If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world (remember what the Pharisees were all about); but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already (I'm lookin' at you, Nicodemus!), because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and *****MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL. FOR EVERY ONE THAT DOETH EVIL HATETH THE LIGHT, NEITHER COMETH TO THE LIGHT, LEST HIS DEEDS SHOULD BE REPROVED. BUT HE THAT DOETH TRUTH COMETH TO THE LIGHT, THAT HIS DEEDS MAY BE MADE MANIFEST, THAT THEY ARE WROUGHT IN GOD.*****"
     
     And that was that.
     
     Ooh. Ouch. That stung. Nicodemus had some repenting to do. And he appears to have.
     
     I know. You've NEVER heard it told that way before. Why? Well, that has something to do with the archaic language tricking you into thinking that everyone is speaking eloquently and delicately. But remember, Peter had what amounted to a thick, hillbilly accent. He really stood out, and was generally assumed to be an ignoramus by all who heard him. If you were going to put this on stage, rather than having Anthony Hopkins playing him, you'd be better off casting Larry the Cable Guy instead. And then you might have a better sense of what tones of voice were really in play here. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fellow doctoral candidates debating a point of nuclear physics. This was an argument between a boorish know-it-all, and someone who had to beat through that obstinate opposition in order to make a point. And this is MY point: THAT POINT WAS NICODEMUS' BENEFIT.
     
     Christ was trying to save someone he knew (as only Christ could) was worth saving, and willing to be saved, with a little application of TOUGH LOVE. (Herod, on the other hand, is an example of someone who was so beyond hope that Christ wouldn't even respond to him.)
     
     (It's getting late, and I have to get up early tomorrow, so I'm going to gloss over a bunch of stuff here, but I'm sure you all know what scriptures I'm referring to.)
     
     When Christ cast Legion out of the young man, what did that look like? It says that Christ rebuked the spirit within him. How does one do that? How does one 'love the sinner, but hate the sin'? I'm going to propose here that they are one in the same. Imagine what the witnesses saw. Christ is rebuking (and NOT gently, you can bet) the spirits within the young man, who are, for all practical purposes at this point, THE YOUNG MAN HIMSELF. So Christ is essentially chewing out this poor, afflicted young man in full public view. But, it worked. That may be why he got away with it. Had it not worked, he may have incurred the wrath of the witnesses for so maligning this obviously tormented youth. But, instead, Christ taught them all a lesson about how such things work.
     
     Consider the woman who touched the hem of his garment. She's trembling at having been found out. Why? Because she knows she's doomed. But, upon hearing her honest confession, Christ lets her off. Before that, though, she was doomed. Didn't he just tell Nicodemus that he didn't come to condemn? Sure. But he's a rabbi, and the law must be obeyed. HEY! Where've I read that before?
     
     So THIS is love?!
     
     Yes. Actually, this is love.
     
     James Dobson wrote a book called, Tough Love, a few decades ago, and I encourage everyone to read it. In fact I'll go as far as to say that tough love *IS* love. And that nothing else is.
     
     Love, as I tell my kids, is about driving growth. It's a process that I explain this way:
     
     Structure ... is having a plan of action.
     Discipline ... is sticking to that plan.
     Motivation ... is a reason to stick to that plan.
     Love ... is giving someone a reason to stick to that plan.
     Charity ... is giving someone the best reasons to stick to the best plan, the plan of salvation.
     
     Your typical military drill sergeant loves more people more perfectly than most Christians ever do, and his love is feigned. It's just his job. But he takes largely unstructured, undisciplined, and unmotivated youths, and turns them into men. And he doesn't do it with 'nice', 'pleasant', or flattery. He doesn't do it with kumbaya Christianity.
     
     Now, imagine what could be achieved when someone, undeterred by what others might think, were to take everyone around them, and apply the same tough love Christ used, to make them all they can be? How great would all of society be?
     
     But that would require commitment, resilience, fortitude, a determination to 'stick to the plan', and not give up, leaving ones' 'students' hanging. As Joseph Smith said, 'reproving immediately (and always) with sharpness, but showing an INCREASE in love (over and above the love that lead you to reprove with sharpness), lest they think you an enemy.'
     
     And therein we have hate. The proof of what I'm saying.
     
     Christ said to hate mother and father and follow him.
     
     Really?! Christ wants us to hate those the 5th commandment demands we 'honor'?! That makes no sense at all ... given our modern, English understanding of the words love and hate. But, given my definition above, you can see that love requires engagement, immediacy, intimacy, constancy, and permanency. But Christ wants SOME of us (Seventies and above) to 'cut the apron strings' (Missionaries, too), and leave home. Turn your backs on them. Leave them in the care of others. And go perform your mission. Distance. Neglect. Absence.
     
     That is hate.
     
     Anger is NOT hate. Anger is love. If you didn't love someone, you wouldn't get angry with them. You wouldn't care what they did. But you do. And when they do wrong, you get angry. Just as God and Christ do.
     
     No. Hate is the absence of all caring. Hate is distance. If you hate someone, you disengage, remove yourself from the equation, and abandon them.
     
     THAT ... is hate.
     
     If you love them, you engage, you work for their betterment, or, as the D&C puts it, "Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God."
     
     Got it? If you don't love someone, then your reputation with the world is more important to you than their welfare. You fear man more than God. So you disengage. You say, 'Whatever'. Do as you want. I can't control you. You have your agency. Or, the worst I've ever heard, "I can't do anything about their behavior because that would infringe upon their agency."
     
     Don't you ever let yourself be guilty of that kind of hate and idolatry.
     
     IDOLATRY?!
     
     Yes! And THAT is our next word.
     
     Love
     I know. I know. I promised to write about idolatry, and we will get there, but I didn't really finish with the word, love, yet. After all, I did say that it would take a lot of time, which I ran out of last time.
     So, to review, love is not like, not even intense liking. Love is about growing, nurturing, promoting, building, expanding ... perfecting. This is what the parable of the talents is really all about.
     Love is a process. It's not as simple as just promoting. There are steps involved, and I detailed those: Structure, Discipline, Motivation, Love, and Charity. Notice what words are not inherently a part of that process: Nice, Pleasant, Flattering. These are not necessarily anathema to love, but they are also NOT synonymous with it, just as Paul tried to explain about charity.
     This is how it is possible, easy even, to do some of those seemingly impossible things that Christ requires of us, like loving our enemies. This difference between the worldly and scriptural meanings of the word were what prompted Brigham Young to explain that 'we can not love hell'. And that makes sense in both senses, doesn't it? Surely no one would 'like' hell. And, hopefully, no one wants to see hell any bigger or more powerful than it already is.
     So, how does one love an enemy? Well, there's a lot of scriptural and logical support for the idea that, bringing that enemy to repentance is about the best thing that can be done for them. Now, wouldn't that certainly be an act of love? Notice that Ammon went to the Nephites' sworn enemies in order to convert them. That's the example that everyone LIKES to focus on, but what about Captain Moroni? He's the one who got Mormon's greatest praise. How did he handle the Lamanites? He killed them. Was that an act of love? Look to the process! Did the prospect of death motivate the Lamanites to repentance? We see clear evidence that it did. Thus, Captain Moroni loved his enemies. Surgically.
     This is also how we 'love one another as Christ loved us'. Yes, that would be the same Christ who 'rebuked the evil spirit in the man', the very Christ of whom his own disciples, we are told, so often feared to ask anything, the Christ who dismissed the Canaanite women as a ... little/female dog, the same Christ who beat people, with a weapon, and destroyed their property, in full view of the public. TWICE!
     And they all grew through this. Peter learned to stop pandering after being rebuked by Christ. Paul learned to open his eyes to the obvious, after being blinded by Christ. Everyone learned to think for themselves after being blinded by Christ. (SORRY! I'm cheating here. I know you don't know what I'm talking about here. We'll come back to this later. But I wanted to start you thinking.)
     This also helps us to understand Christ's almost allergic aversion to money. When he said that the 'love' of money is the root of all evil, given what I've shown you about the meaning of love, we now can see that he's addressing not only those who want a lot of money, but, more especially those who promote money.
     Ever heard the phrase, 'the growth of money'?
     Can you say Wall Street?
     But what is money?
     NOT gold.
     Not necessarily, anyway. What money really is isn't even coins. You see, if we press gold into coins, all we're doing is taking something that has intrinsic value (its 'melt' value) and certifying it. And regulating weights and measures is one of the powers granted our federal government by our Constitution.
     No, what money really is is something which has only perceived, or 'agreed upon' value. The paper in your pocket is literally not even worth the paper it's printed on. If it weren't for our government's stability and power, that money would be good for nothing more than tinder.
     And that's what money really is: Fiction. Lies. Government control and power over the interactions among mankind.
     And that's why Christ said to let Caesar have his filthy lucre. We don't need it. We shouldn't use it. Gold is fine. Trade is fine. But even that can be monitored, metered, and taxed by government. And the whole point of Christ's admonition to love one another instead of money was all, very clearly about depriving government of its ability to divide us.
     After all, the defining characteristic of Zion is unity. To be of one heart, and one mind.
     How will we help one another get there if not by 'tough' love? After all, 'soft' love doesn't really seem to be producing any results.
     Or am I reading it wrong?
     
     Closing thoughts on love
     
     Christ refused to support money any more than necessary. He's made it clear that he gives Satan his due (and requires us to do the same), and money is what Satan uses, wants, but also all the reward he'll get. A mess of pottage compared with the rest of the world and all that Christ will inherit, and share with his joint heirs, his fellow children of God.
     
     Judas was all about the money. Judas (the way they pronounced the name, Judah, in Christ's time, just as Isaiah became Isaias, Elijah became Elias, etc.) was all about maximizing profit, and converting everything possible into its monetary equivalent, including Christ himself. Truly, Judas was a lover of money. Judas was not a lover of God. Christ, however, as willing, even insistent as he is to grant Satan his pittance, isn't interested in those skills. Why? Because he can get all the money Satan could ever demand of him. The very fish of the sea will cough it up for him. Christ has no need to worry about haggling over the price. Christ has no need to worry about investments, interest rates, market capitalization, hurdles, etc. What Christ wants is for us to love God, to love him. And how do we do that? We sure don't do it by loving money. We do it by obeying Christ, by loving God's other children as Christ showed us by the way he loved his disciples. And that wasn't often actually the most pleasant of experiences. He himself explained it like this (paraphrasing):
     
     If you're my children, or want to become children (because that's NOT a 'given') (you must earn it), then you'll stand there and take what the world would tell you is verbal abuse, insults, rebukes, chastisement, like the Canaanite woman you saw come to me on her daughter's behalf, like the young man I cast a legion of evil spirits out of, like Mary whom I cast 7 evil spirits out of. And notice that Mary still has to endure scorn not only from me, but even from some of you, but she takes it, she endures to the end. She's still with me today. So you'll take it and like it because you know that I'll stay there with you. I'm no hit-and-run punisher. The punishment isn't the end, it's just the means to that end. And I'll keep working on you as long as you stay with me, enduring unto that end. And you'll stay with me because you know that I'm not really scolding you anyway, but rather a spirit in you, a hitchhiker, an invader, a thief who wants your house, your temple, your body. But remember the resurrection. If that invader gets your body, and it is absolutely possible. Never think that it isn't. If he gets your body, then the resurrection will restore your spirit to its home, but your spirit will be as powerless to fight the invader then as it is now. He'll tie you up, throw you into a closet, and take your whole soul into hell with him, because that's where he's going. And God can't let him use you as a human shield to get into heaven, or there will be no heaven, so you can't get into heaven either. You'll both go to hell. And for that reason, you must always remember that, while rebukes don't particularly feel good at the time, they cast out evil spirits. Don't go with them. Stay here with me. Chastisement heals. And that's a father's true healing touch, like a sculptor creating a beautiful statue, with a lot of noise and dust, he cuts and hammers away whatever doesn't belong to that statue. A father doesn't waste that kind of time and effort on anyone but his own children because the world, moved by Satan, tries to call such good work evil. The world wants to punish such good work, the healing of the sick, the saving of the souls, the gathering of the children. The world is a tool in Satan's hand to stop love, to stop such healing, because misery loves company. The world wants everyone to be like Satan, the very opposite of all that is good. And so Satan will lead you down to hell with a satin ribbon, flattering you, speaking nicely to you, letting you off easy, never demanding anything of you, always agreeing with you, letting you fail, making excuses for you, rewarding mediocrity and even debauchery, and, above all, rallying his minions to persecute, punish, even kill anyone who tries to love correctly, anyone who works to expose his methods for the crippling and enslaving poisons they really are, anyone who shows, proves, just how effective love, true love, my love, charity, really is, the most powerful force in the universe. Thus, a father restricts himself to working on his own children, trying to grow them, to make them all they can be, cutting out the deadwood one day, watering the next. But his aim is that the tree grows, that his kingdom grows. And, if you want to grow, if you want to be a part of that kingdom, then you'll learn to accept and even appreciate the process. You'll learn to share in the vision. You'll learn to do the same thing yourself with the talents entrusted you. (By the way, a 'talent' is NOT money! A talent is a weight, a measure. Money takes that measure and certifies it, pressing the claimed weight, and value, and certifying individual's name and credentials into it.) You do, after all, have your agency. And God will force no man to heaven. You can use your agency to escape his love, so use it wisely.
     
     A FATHER ... does all this.
     
     A (true) CHILD ... accepts all this, grows from it, and learns to do the same.
     
     And charity is the pure love of Christ.
     
     And this is why ...
     
     Charity begins at home.
     
      It's time it was answered.
     
      Look up magnetism almost anywhere. Wikipedia will do. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetism) You could spend hours, maybe days reading all this, and all the related articles, too, and you'd still lack the single most important thing about magnetism, the one thing never explicitly declared anywhere: No one knows what it is. Oh, sure, it's a force, but what's that?
     
      No one knows.
     
      It is known, for example, that an electric current can create a magnetic field, but no one can precisely, and convincingly, explain just how the one results in the other, only that it does. (Although, I suspect that someone somewhere in the bowels of our network of national labs understands this far better than can be gleaned from any publicly accessible textbook today.) (And I strongly suspect this has to do with the rashly dismissed theory of spiri... I mean aether, but that's a topic for another day.) (But they're not allowed to tell anyone. Just look what happened to Anthony Perratt.) And magnetism isn't the only thing that science, so-called, still fails to accurately define. Describe, yes, define, no. Gravity, electricity, and light are also all still well beyond the best scientific minds. (Even the Rutheford model of the atom is now being scrutinized. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutherford_model) Not that this stops (far too) many of them from asserting, very convincingly, I might add, exactly what each of these is, always cleverly omitting the all-important qualifier, "according to theory", or, in other words, "we think", not "we know". (A lesson many who bear testimonies might bear in mind.)
     
      So, if generations of our best scientists, splashing about in swimming-pools of mandatory tax-payer largesse can't figure out magnetism, then it shouldn't be too radical a conclusion that generations of lay ministers can't quite nail down love, and, since God is love, God himself. So, as with magnetism, we're working at the disadvantage of a clear definition. Unlike magnetism, the definition has been under our noses all along. The real problem has been with pride, honesty, a willingness to accept truth as it is, a desire, as the prophet wrote, to shut the mouths of the prophets, to soften the tone, soothe the nerves, flatter the ego, absolve one's self by absolving others.
     
      So, I could just tell you, but, as I've said (or written) before, as with first principles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_principle), our language requires us to laboriously lay the groundwork of such fundamentals lest they be too easily confused and/or dismissed. And this is too far important for that because it lies at the core of many other concepts in scripture, such as Christ's claim than the love of money is the root of all evil, and that the rich hate the poor because of their money. We'll eventually have to cover the meanings of the words evil, root, money, and hate, as well as the need to so carefully catalog all of this information, but today we're focusing on love.
     
      As I've also written before, when you can structure a concept, such as Mendeleev did with his Periodic Table of the Elements, then you know that you've got it right even if, as with Mendeleev's original table, you don't have it all. You can formulate it, structure it, identify the hits and the misses. It will make sense. This is why humans are natural table-makers and interpreters.
     
      So here's the table:
     
      Structure = having a plan
      Discipline = sticking to the plan
      Motivation = a reason to stick to the plan
      Love = giving someone a reason to stick to the plan
      Charity = giving someone the best reasons to stick to the best plan, the plan of salvation
     
      By the way, this isn't the only table that will help you with gospel principles. We could also arrange the terms Faith, Hope, and Charity into tabular form that would quite suddenly (for many, I'm sure) clarify their relationship to the also oft-repeated Faith, Repentance, and Baptism. And the relationship becomes one of columns vs. rows, placing martyrdom in a rather uncomfortable position, which, for me, at least, only further cements Joseph's importance, and Christ's authority. But more on that another day. Just know that structuring and tabulating words and concepts can be sheer revelatory. You should look for it everywhere in scripture.
     
      So, coming back to our table defining ... Love? No. Not quite. This defines love in much the same way as a thesaurus does. This table actually defines God, but we'll come back to that. Anyway, this table immediately makes a few things clear. First is that love is just a part of, a higher level step in, a much larger process, a process designed to achieve a goal, a goal which Paul laboriously attempted to clarify for us. Second is that many, in fact almost all of the things we've long heard associated with love, or, indeed, proclaimed to be the very definition of love, are nowhere to be found. Just look for any of the words/concepts you've always been taught either are love, or are at least suggestive of love: Tenderness, kindness, politeness, softness, tolerance, sweetness, sensitivity, ... Finally, many of these words will be familiar to you, but you will have almost certainly heard them all misapplied, too. The word, love, is not the only one. You will certainly have heard someone say that structure is needed when, given this table, what they clearly meant was that motivation was needed. And you will also certainly have heard someone diagnose a need for motivation when they more correctly should have suggested love. Finally, Paul's description of charity becomes clearer, too. Recall that he defined charity as the opposite of what we so often hear charity described as today. And why is this? For the very reasons we're defining love here, now: no one really knows any more.
     
      If people really loved children as much as they claim to, they wouldn't try so hard to turn them into adults, but they do, and for good reason: Becoming an adult is growth, and we grow our children. To do anything less is neglect, abandonment, hate. (You've gotta be cruel to be kind.)
     
      Now, you will find just a few places in scripture where the word, love, is not used in this context. This has to do with translation, and with the specific languages' word-treasury. And by that, I mean that, English, for instance, provides us with multiple words for a covering over our heads: Canopy, ceiling, roof, sky, stars, ... heaven. This alone causes us considerable confusion. Imagine what struggles the Greeks suffered, sometimes also using multiple words for essentially the same thing, and sometimes, just as in English, stretching a single word over multiple, usually related, but sometimes even opposite meanings. I'm sure you've heard of the Eskimos' many words for snow (https://www.princeton.edu/~browning/snow.html), but do you recall when the adjective, bad, became good in the 1980s. But, for the most part, and especially when used by Christ and the Book of Mormon, we can count on this word, love, to essentially mean to grow, to nurture, to develop, like a father training his sons, a farmer growing his crops, or a prophet enlightening his people.
     
      But this is done for a couple of deliberate and premeditated reasons, neither of which have anything at all to do with knowledge, inquisitiveness, or even science, but rather with winning your confidence (as in con-artist and con-game), and both of which come down to the twin devils of money and power, because, after all, especially in this era of the fire-hose of government funding, science and scientists rise and fall on their ability to persuade you and/or your government representatives to fund them. It's no longer like the days of ... well ... now that I think of it, we haven't really seen a time where academia wasn't wholly dependent on, and perpetually pandering to, government, be it democracy or monarchy, for its support since Nimrod seized the temples, turned out the original (although arguably already corrupt) priests, and replaced them with his own cadre of professional (where we get the word professor from, by the way) shamans, inventing our modern university system. (So called because one studies the universe there.) (Because that's what all real religion is.) (Don't believe me? Look it up! All ancient temples were astronomy laboratories. Even Hugh Nibley taught that the temple was a model of the cosmos. But why?) What once was taught only the most worthy was now available to anyone, so long as they paid the price of admission.
     
     

     
     
     
~~ Marcus Aurelius ~~

     
     
     
     
      D&C 82:19 Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.
     
     Given John's assertion that "God is love", along with the thousands of other words of scripture describing that love in action over the course of thousands of years, one might guess lessons on love in church about as warranted as yodeling lessons in a maternity ward. Still we keep hearing them, and not just lessons about love, but lessons on a host of other topics, too. And that should tell us something. Sure, sure, there are always new eyes and ears to train, but weren't they brought up in this tradition? What's it going to take? Shouldn't we be ready to move up to the next level by now? Perhaps, comes the response, but certainly all are well-served by reminders, too. And that would be fair enough; the oft-used key admittedly remains bright, but is it really a reminder if it misses the mark? Or does that become just so much more beating around the bush? Is it really a reminder if it only adds to the confusion? Or fails to answer the key question?
     
     And what would that be? And could this be the real reason we have to keep coming back to this topic? It has not been satisfactorily handled for any of us. It's an open question.
     
     It's time it was answered.
     
     Look up magnetism almost anywhere. Wikipedia will do. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetism) You could spend hours, maybe days reading all this, and all the related articles, too, and you'd still lack the single most important thing about magnetism, the one thing never explicitly declared anywhere: No one knows what it is. Oh, sure, it's a force, but what's that?
     
     No one knows.
     
     It is known, for example, that an electric current can create a magnetic field, but no one can precisely, and convincingly, explain just how the one results in the other, only that it does. (Although, I suspect that someone somewhere in the bowels of our network of national labs understands this far better than can be gleaned from any publicly accessible textbook today.) (And I strongly suspect this has to do with the rashly dismissed theory of spiri... I mean aether, but that's a topic for another day.) (But they're not allowed to tell anyone. Just look what happened to Anthony Perratt.) And magnetism isn't the only thing that science, so-called, still fails to accurately define. Describe, yes, define, no. Gravity, electricity, and light are also all still well beyond the best scientific minds. (Even the Rutheford model of the atom is now being scrutinized. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutherford_model) Not that this stops (far too) many of them from asserting, very convincingly, I might add, exactly what each of these is, always cleverly omitting the all-important qualifier, "according to theory", or, in other words, "we think", not "we know". (A lesson many who bear testimonies might bear in mind.)
     
     So, if generations of our best scientists, splashing about in swimming-pools of mandatory tax-payer largesse can't figure out magnetism, then it shouldn't be too radical a conclusion that generations of lay ministers can't quite nail down love, and, since God is love, God himself. So, as with magnetism, we're working at the disadvantage of a clear definition. Unlike magnetism, the definition has been under our noses all along. The real problem has been with pride, honesty, a willingness to accept truth as it is, a desire, as the prophet wrote, to shut the mouths of the prophets, to soften the tone, soothe the nerves, flatter the ego, absolve one's self by absolving others.
     
     So, I could just tell you, but, as I've said (or written) before, as with first principles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_principle), our language requires us to laboriously lay the groundwork of such fundamentals lest they be too easily confused and/or dismissed. And this is too far important for that because it lies at the core of many other concepts in scripture, such as Christ's claim than the love of money is the root of all evil, and that the rich hate the poor because of their money. We'll eventually have to cover the meanings of the words evil, root, money, and hate, as well as the need to so carefully catalog all of this information, but today we're focusing on love.
     
     As I've also written before, when you can structure a concept, such as Mendeleev did with his Periodic Table of the Elements, then you know that you've got it right even if, as with Mendeleev's original table, you don't have it all. You can formulate it, structure it, identify the hits and the misses. It will make sense. This is why humans are natural table-makers and interpreters.
     
     So here's the table:
     
     Structure = having a plan
     Discipline = sticking to the plan
     Motivation = a reason to stick to the plan
     Love = giving someone a reason to stick to the plan
     Charity = giving someone the best reasons to stick to the best plan, the plan of salvation
     
     By the way, this isn't the only table that will help you with gospel principles. We could also arrange the terms Faith, Hope, and Charity into tabular form that would quite suddenly (for many, I'm sure) clarify their relationship to the also oft-repeated Faith, Repentance, and Baptism. And the relationship becomes one of columns vs. rows, placing martyrdom in a rather uncomfortable position, which, for me, at least, only further cements Joseph's importance, and Christ's authority. But more on that another day. Just know that structuring and tabulating words and concepts can be sheer revelatory. You should look for it everywhere in scripture.
     
     So, coming back to our table defining ... Love? No. Not quite. This defines love in much the same way as a thesaurus does. This table actually defines God, but we'll come back to that. Anyway, this table immediately makes a few things clear. First is that love is just a part of, a higher level step in, a much larger process, a process designed to achieve a goal, a goal which Paul laboriously attempted to clarify for us. Second is that many, in fact almost all of the things we've long heard associated with love, or, indeed, proclaimed to be the very definition of love, are nowhere to be found. Just look for any of the words/concepts you've always been taught either are love, or are at least suggestive of love: Tenderness, kindness, politeness, softness, tolerance, sweetness, sensitivity, ... Finally, many of these words will be familiar to you, but you will have almost certainly heard them all misapplied, too. The word, love, is not the only one. You will certainly have heard someone say that structure is needed when, given this table, what they clearly meant was that motivation was needed. And you will also certainly have heard someone diagnose a need for motivation when they more correctly should have suggested love. Finally, Paul's description of charity becomes clearer, too. Recall that he defined charity as the opposite of what we so often hear charity described as today. And why is this? For the very reasons we're defining love here, now: no one really knows any more.
     
     If people really loved children as much as they claim to, they wouldn't try so hard to turn them into adults, but they do, and for good reason: Becoming an adult is growth, and we grow our children. To do anything less is neglect, abandonment, hate. (You've gotta be cruel to be kind.)
     
     Now, you will find just a few places in scripture where the word, love, is not used in this context. This has to do with translation, and with the specific languages' word-treasury. And by that, I mean that, English, for instance, provides us with multiple words for a covering over our heads: Canopy, ceiling, roof, sky, stars, ... heaven. This alone causes us considerable confusion. Imagine what struggles the Greeks suffered, sometimes also using multiple words for essentially the same thing, and sometimes, just as in English, stretching a single word over multiple, usually related, but sometimes even opposite meanings. I'm sure you've heard of the Eskimos' many words for snow (https://www.princeton.edu/~browning/snow.html), but do you recall when the adjective, bad, became good in the 1980s. But, for the most part, and especially when used by Christ and the Book of Mormon, we can count on this word, love, to essentially mean to grow, to nurture, to develop, like a father training his sons, a farmer growing his crops, or a prophet enlightening his people.
     
      But this is done for a couple of deliberate and premeditated reasons, neither of which have anything at all to do with knowledge, inquisitiveness, or even science, but rather with winning your confidence (as in con-artist and con-game), and both of which come down to the twin devils of money and power, because, after all, especially in this era of the fire-hose of government funding, science and scientists rise and fall on their ability to persuade you and/or your government representatives to fund them. It's no longer like the days of ... well ... now that I think of it, we haven't really seen a time where academia wasn't wholly dependent on, and perpetually pandering to, government, be it democracy or monarchy, for its support since Nimrod seized the temples, turned out the original (although arguably already corrupt) priests, and replaced them with his own cadre of professional (where we get the word professor from, by the way) shamans, inventing our modern university system. (So called because one studies the universe there.) (Because that's what all real religion is.) (Don't believe me? Look it up! All ancient temples were astronomy laboratories. Even Hugh Nibley taught that the temple was a model of the cosmos. But why?) What once was taught only the most worthy was now available to anyone, so long as they paid the price of admission.
     
     What doctrine (and it is pretty clearly a doctrine, as you'll see below) have we heard far too little of lately? As in, oh, the past 40 years, at least? Can you tell by reading these scriptures? What do you think? What do they mean? Have we maybe forgotten something? Can you name any ways in which this commandment is being violated C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-L-Y?
     
     D&C 88:121 Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.
     
     Acts 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
     
     Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
     
     2 Corinthians 5:13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
     
     Thessalonians 5:6-8 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
     
     Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
     
     Timothy 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
     
     Titus 1:7-8 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
     
     Titus 2:2-12 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
     
     Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
     
     Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
     
     Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
     
     THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES
     
     |v1 Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
     
     THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES
     
     |v1 Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
     
     Nephi 18:10 And I, Nephi, began to fear exceedingly lest the Lord should be angry with us, and smite us because of our iniquity, that we should be swallowed up in the depths of the sea; wherefore, I, Nephi, began to speak to them with much soberness; but behold they were angry with me, saying: We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.
     
     Jacob 1:2 Now, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob, according to the responsibility which I am under to God, to magnify mine office with soberness, and that I might rid my garments of your sins, I come up into the temple this day that I might declare unto you the word of God.
     
     Jacob 6:5 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts.
     
     Mosiah 4:15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
     
     Alma 37:47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.
     
     Alma 38:15 And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell.
     
     Alma 42:31 And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.
     
     Alma 53:21 Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.
     
     Mormon 1:2 And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;
     
     Mormon 1:15 And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.
     
     D&C 6:19 Admonish him in his faults, and also receive admonition of him. Be patient; be sober; be temperate; have patience, faith, hope and charity.
     
     D&C 6:35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
     
     D&C 18:21 Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness.
     
     D&C 43:35 Be sober. Keep all my commandments. Even so. Amen.
     
     D&C 61:38 Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not.
     
     D&C 73:6 Now I give no more unto you at this time. Gird up your loins and be sober. Even so. Amen.
     
     There's a post over on my friend, Anthony E. Larson's page that's evolved into quite the discussion. I can't seem to share it all here, or to tag any of you not members of that page, and I don't know how the others would feel about me copying their comments here, so, for now, here are some of the comments I've added. They seem relevant to other things you've shown interest in.
     
     I can't really relate to those who don't 'get the [cosmological] connection to the gospel', or who seek 'spiritual' answers. Maybe it's just been too long for me. But I'm going to try. Please, read this. You need it.
     
     First, we have to tackle this word, spiritual. Hugh Nibley used to complain that it was the most abused in the LDS vocabulary. I used to wonder what he meant, but no longer. Read 1 Nephi 22:1-3. 'Spiritual' means nothing more than those things which come through the spirit, and often can only come through the spirit, like prophecy. Spiritual has nothing to do with sentimentality or character other than the fact that one's character must be impeccable in order to receive through the spirit. The spirit is the 'wiring' of heaven, the 'aether' of the Greeks. It is the medium through which Christ creates the universe, and through which we perceive Christ. It's not entirely correct to say that the only ones in the grove that day were Joseph, the father, and the son. The spirit had to have been there, too. And we know that Satan was there, as well. That makes 5.
     
     Temporal vs. Eternal/Spiritual: Just as there is no immaterial matter, there is no separating temporal and eternal. How do we know this? Everything that everyone keeps referring to as temporal will become eternal, at least in as much as it is worthy to become eternal. Thus your own terrestrial body. It's your second inheritance, and one you'll get to keep, if all goes well, because, as we've been told, body and spirit will be reunited, right? But the body will be exalted, perfected (code language, by the way).
     
     And this brings us to what Paul was saying about there being two, and only two bodies, as opposed to 4 kingdoms, 3 of glory, and one of no glory. Paul explained that these two bodies are a) terrestrial, and b) celestial. What's a terrestrial body? Astronomers would tell you that it is a rocky body, like the earth, Mars, moon, etc. But in scripture, the word takes on its textbook definition: Of the Earth, aka Terra. In other words, a terrestrial body is a human body.
     
     But then there is a celestial body, and that is exactly what astronomers would tell you. In fact, astronomers would say that the earth is a celestial body, as are all planets, comets, stars, etc.
     
     So, why is Paul telling us this? You would do well to read those verses repeatedly.
     
     Then there is D&C 88, the 'olive leaf', as Joseph referred to it.
     
     By the way, there are only 2 sections of the D&C that Joseph named. The WoW wasn't really named; Joseph just referred to it as it is. And it is a word of wisdom. And it's widely misunderstood, too. Next is the 'Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood'. Nope. Joseph referred to the oath and the covenant, but he didn't name the section or the revelation that. That honor goes to two sections only: 76 and 88. And, as you read them, you see how related they are. Joseph repeatedly referred to section 76 as 'The Vision', even naming his great response (a poetic version of 76) to W.W.Phelp's Vade Mecum after it. (http://mldb.byu.edu/jsmith1.htm) And, by the way, 76 is unique in all canon: It is the only vision ever shared by a prophet with anyone else in real-time, as it was received.
     
     But then comes 88, the olive leaf. 88 is inextricably tied to 76. They belong together. But what does 88 speak of? Start reading somewhere around verse 36. Actually, as I always say, read the whole thing, in context, from the History of the Church. But, now, pay special attention as of 36, focusing heavily on 43, 47 and 48.
     
     See?
     
     Then, of course, there's facsimile 2. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-2?lang=eng
     
     So ... spiritual? Temporal? It's all spiritual, because every 'thing' in the universe is made of spirit. And it all went through a temporal phase on its way to being eternal. You can't separate them. You can't say, 'well, that's just temporal', and ignore it. This is connected to the very nature of God, and is revealed in the 'sealing power', and the fact that we have temples and chapels, temples for the eternal, and chapels for the temporal. But no man comes unto the father but by Christ. Now, notice whose name graces every chapel, right there on the wall. Now go to the temple. Is Christ's name on the wall? No. Christ's name is on the fence or plaque away from the wall. You go through the chapels to get to the temples. You pass through the fence or past the plaque to get to the temple. You can not reverse the order. You can not skip the 'temporal'.
     
     Moreover, as scripture tells us, all things are ultimately spiritual (which is to say eternal) to God. Like I said about your bodies, they are inseparable. And, again, this goes back to the very nature of God. That's why there will be a resurrection.
     
     So, to say that the sorts of things that Tony teaches are 'merely' temporal is to dismiss much of scripture, and the prophets.
     
     I wouldn't do that.
     
     Finally, you may say, as I have so often heard, "If it's so important, or even true at all, why don't we hear more from the prophets about it?"
     
     And to this I say, you have. But you and/or your parents and/or grandparents, great-grand parents, have all been lied to by a group who love to be heard, even though they don't know what they're talking about. And you've adopted the same language they've perverted. My son's BYU ... yes, even in BYU ... professors manage to slip the same Cultural Marxism into his assignments that all the rest of the world has been doing for decades. And, in the same ways, there has been a 'spiritual' Marxism creeping into the church. And they are related. The prophets have been trying to counter it, but it spreads. And it spreads largely because of the perversion of language, and the willingness of the audience to believe in that corrupted message.
     
     This is exactly what Christ meant when he told Joseph in the grove that day that, "... they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me ..."
     
     Like so many things, there is 'code' language used here. Not to hide anything from anyone, but to reveal through greater precision, like a legal document. And it is, after all, from these books that we will be judged, so they must be legally precise, like the sacrament prayer.
     
     For example, the word, heart: It has a very precise meaning to the ancients, and it is NOT what we, or rather the 'spiritualists'/Cultural Marxists have turned it into. Study, and you will find that 'heart' means a) the core of a matter and/or b) the mind, the soul, the self. To the Egyptians, for example, the heart was all-important. They pulled the brains out of the dead and discarded them, but the heart was left in-place. The heart, it was believed, would be weighed. And we sometimes view the heart in the same way: As being tied to state of mind, intellect, mental processes. Indeed, stress is widely known to affect the operation and health of the heart. The heart and mind are connected. To the ancients, it was the heart which was the seat of the soul, the mind, the intellect. It was the bowels which were the seat of emotion, sentimentality, and passion. You see this in the Book of Mormon when Christ's 'bowels were filled with compassion' for the Nephites.
     
     This is what Alma meant when he spoke of "a change of heart". He literally meant a 'change of mind', a reversal of opinion, an opinion which influences your actions, your deeds. Many believe that they believe that keeping the commandments is a good thing, but, deep down, they want to disobey the commandments. That's why we speak of temptation. It's a struggle for you, and one which you will lose. Your opinions on the matter don't match God's, thus your actions will not match God's. You won't win that battle until you change your mind, change your heart, the very core of your being.
     
     That 'burning in your bosom'? We, today, would say something like, 'my mind is abuzz', or 'my head is exploding', 'mind ... blown', not 'my heart is burning'. That's indigestion. And Charles Dickens, speaking through Ebenezer Scrooge, pointed out how easily we dismiss such 'testimony'. Such testimony would be of little value. But, an excitement of the mind, a 'Eureka!' moment, that is not easily forgotten or disregarded.
     
     So, what Christ is telling Joseph is essentially this: They don't know what they're talking about. They're using all the right words, but from the wrong dictionary. This is the corruption of the language I mentioned earlier. Just as the definitions of words in our own Constitution, like 'regulate' (which really means to promote, not restrict) (Ever heard of a laxative giving you constipation while claiming to keep you 'regular'?), have been completely inverted, so have so many, many other words been perverted by the Synagogue of Satan among us.
     
     Want an example? Just look at what Paul wrote about charity. Why is he even doing that? Look for the word in the Old Testament. It's NEVER used. Not even once. It didn't exist back then. The language changed. While Old Testament authors were trying to push the language away from Egyptian and Syriac to Hebrew, after the Assyrian invasion, the language started changing back again to a form of Syriac. Thus, Isaiah became Isaias, Elijah became Elias, we see John and Peter and Paul for the first time, as well as James, and many other new names. Judah becomes Judas (a version of Cyrus, by the way, and pronounced similarly). And Joshua becomes Jesus.
     
     So, now, the Greeks among them have also introduced a new word, a word that the early Christians had then introduced to their meetings, charity. And, like today, no one then really knew what it meant, so Paul clarified it for them. And how did Paul do this? Paul did it by explaining to the members that the word did NOT mean all the things they were using it to mean. If you sell all that you have, and give it to the poor (still our 'textbook' definition of the word), and yet have not charity, it was all for nothing. "But, wait!", you say, "How can that NOT be charity?" Or, from those who have a little more understanding of these things, "TRUE! It's not 'charity' unless you do it with HEART, or FEELS, or 'a cherry-on-top', or ..." ... some other such goofiness. But think about it: If you feed a man for a day, you've only prolonged his agony. Read Isaiah 32:5-8 for more about this. If, however, you use that money to, say, start a company that he can work in every day for the rest of his life, then you have truly helped him. THAT was truly charitable. Well, maybe. If you took it even further, and saved his soul, as well, THEN you were charitable.
     
     Want an even better example of real charity? Joseph Smith starting the church AND the United Order. THAT was charity. And then he sealed it with his own blood. DOUBLE CHARITY! How so? Imagine if he had recanted? What would have become of it all? But he died for it, sealing it, protecting it, ensuring it. And there's far more to this than I'm telling you here. Trust me. And it all has to do with the difference between what the Marxists are spreading (all the while 'allowing' with a wink-and-a-nod that the United Order is NOT Communism) (when, in fact, they believe it really is in every way but name), and Christ's teaching that the 'love' (another code word that needs clear definition) of money (ditto) (NOT wealth, but actual money) is the root (code) of all evil (code).
     
     Notice that Christ never touched or possessed money, but he was wealthy. Remember the Wise Men? What did they bring him? And what did that provide? It financed a family trip to Egypt where Christ returned with enough education to stump the 'doctors of the law' in the temple. It financed a trip back home, and weddings. Christ was NOT a carpenter. Christ was a pharisaical rabbi. That's why the 'woman' was brought to him for judgement. That's why the woman who merely touched the hem of his 'garment' was in such trouble that she was trembling in the street once exposed. (It's punishable by death for a non-immediate family member woman to touch a rabbi.) (But notice that, once word of this got out, everyone is touching the hem of his garment. Why? Because, as a rabbi, a judge, he had set a new precedent, and they were all just taking advantage of it.) No. Christ was not poor. When he said that he had nowhere to lay his head, he was talking about a tomb. Remember? He was laid in a borrowed tomb. And why had this wealthy man not already bought a tomb for himself as all the other wealthy men had already done? (He was laid in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb because, like all wealthy men, Joseph had already bought himself a tomb, which he lent to Christ.) Because he knew he wouldn't be needing it! (Notice that it was a 'borrowed', not bought, tomb.) So he spent that money elsewhere. Or, rather, Mary and/or Mary and/or Judas did. But Christ was against money. (And taxes.) (When King David got it into his head to tax the people, an angel immediately started destroying Israel until David repented. Which, he did, by the way, literally cutting the calf as he ran to the altar.)
     
     Christ was against the members using the elites' coin. As the saying goes, if you take the king's shilling, you do the king's bidding. So, the members were expected to create a society among themselves where they 'serve' one another, with no exchange of currency, and not even a price-tag on their goods and/or services. (Come and buy milk and honey without money, and without price!) That way, the king can hardly tax any of it. But the people would be wealthy. They would get to keep everything they make.
     
     See how completely corrupted our doctrines get by the twisting of the language and the concepts? It's almost as if someone were deliberately trying to pervert everything good into something evil. Hmmm... Almost as if a 'personage', a single, focused intelligence were at work there, almost like gravity: Everywhere pulling us down. And yet, where would we be without it? There must be opposition in all things.
     
     I know this was long. I know few of you will have gotten this far, and even fewer will accept all of it. But I have done what I can for your eternal souls. Never say that I didn't.
     
     The discussion has to do with knowing the time of Christ's return.
     
     Randy Porter
     July 8 at 5:40am
     
     JOSEPH SMITH SAID THOSE WHO ARE WATCHING AND WAITING, WILL KNOW THE HOUR:
     
     "Christ says no man knoweth the day or the hour when the Son of Man cometh. This is a sweeping argument for sectarianism against Latter day ism. Did Christ speak this as a general principle throughout all generations Oh no he spoke in the present tense no man that was then liveing upon the footstool of God knew the day or the hour But he did not say that there was no man throughout all generations that should not know the day or the hour. No for this would be in flat contradiction with other scripture for the prophet says that God will do nothing but what he will reveal unto his Servants the prophets consequently if it is not made known to the Prophets it will not come to pass; again we find Paul 1st of Thesslonians 5th Chapter expressly points out the characters who shall not know the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh for says he it will come upon them as the theif or unawares. Who are they they are the children of darkness or night. But to the Saints he says yea are not of the night nor of darkness of that that day should come upon you unawares. John the revelator says 14 chap 7th verse that the hour of his judgements is come they are precursers or forerunners of the comeing of Christ. read Matthew 24 Chap and all the Prophets. He says then shall they see the Sign of the comeing of the Son of Man in the clouds of Heaven. How are we to see it Ans. As the lighting up of the morning or the dawning of the morning cometh from the east and shineth unto the west—So also is the comeing of the Son of Man. The dawning of the morning makes its appearance in the east and moves along gradualy so also will the comeing of the Son of Man be. it will be small at its first appearance and gradually becomes larger untill every eye shall see it. Shall the Saints understand it Oh yes. Paul says so. Shall the wicked understand Oh no they attribute it to a natural cause. They will probably suppose it is two great comets comeing in contact with each other It will be small at first and will grow larger and larger untill it will be all in a blaze so that every eye shall see it." (Joseph Smith, General Conference, April 6, 1843
     
     Nuno Martins Please elaborate.
     
     Broox Nebiru Two great comets huh. Where did you find this at? Its a pretty big deal to me. Thank you for sharing!
     
     (Edit) oh general conference right i see it now
     
     http://woodyoubelieveit.blogspot.com/2016/05/brother-wayne-may-jaredites.html
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes God tells us that if we ask, we'll receive; Seek, and ye shall find; Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. And yet, he scolded those who 'only' asked. Martin Harris 'gave no thought save it were to ask'. His disciples got scolded so much, they quit asking before they'd discussed it among themselves first. The Nephites got scolded for not being able to figure out for themselves, and having to be told, that His church should be named His church. (DUH!) (Which begs the question: Why wouldn't they have known this? Could it be that their own religion had become so factious, so 'named', that there was no longer any church among them bearing His name?) Likewise, Joseph was told not to ask again when the second coming would be.
     
     Does this mean that we can not know? No. It means only that we have to figure it out ourselves. There are things even Christ will just not tell even prophets, the scripture that God will do nothing save he tells his prophets notwithstanding. He wants us to figure it out. The prophets will be told ... when it happens. And there's a reason for this: Just as with Peter, that knowledge must come from the Father, via the spirit, and no other way.
     
     So don't ask Christ. (And that should tell you whom Joseph was speaking with at that moment.)
     
     This makes you accountable.
     
     Herod did not know of Christ's first arrival. The pharisees and rabbis knew neither the time nor place of Christ's birth. Even Mary and Joseph weren't told that their Child was the Messiah. Not in those words. They had to figure that out, and Mary clearly never did.
     
     Even the shepherds were not told until it happened. But no one listens to shepherds. They're the garbage-men of their time-n-place. Of no account.
     
     Only some out-of-town astronomers knew both the time and place of the Messiah's birth. And they knew it, according to their own testimony, by watching, and following a star. (Jupiter, by the way.) Not by asking.
     
     And Christ commands one and all: Watch.
     
     Broox Nebiru Very good I like it
     
     Hal Waldram Jupiter?!? I'm not saying that's wrong. Just want to know a source.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes It's been concluded many times by many researches. It has to be easily found on the web. But, simple logic and an understanding of the mythology should make it clear enough: Jupiter, Jove, Jehova. Jupiter = Zeus (Deus), king of the gods.
     
     Broox Nebiru Here is a question though, are the planets in our current system the same as the ones that presided before? Jupiter and saturn were basically the names for the same object from different cultures, but we now see them as two distinct planets. Is venus really venus, mars mars, saturn saturn etc. moreover, id like to note how often both christ and smith talked about how we wont physically see it until it presents itself. Maybe the fake planet x has more reality than i gave them credit for (still only 10% in my eyes)
     
     Angela Knight is the 2nd Coming something that will happen totally independent of earth's happenings? sometimes I feel like we could be here forever because we're not collectively 'getting it'. like, it could happen sooner if we were more with it.
     
     Broox Nebiru Angela Knight I think God works on his own time, irrespective of whether or not people follow him or not. it is true that things can be delayed or provoked (like a destruction of a people) based on action and faith or the lack of it, but the things of God's workmanship usually happen when He declares they will. For example, Christ's birth was not moved because of the wickedness of the jews.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes That's true. How could such an event happen without the earth? It's just not possible. It's literally all about the earth, after all.
     
     One thing I think I've learned is that it doesn't really matter whether we're righteous or not. No matter how righteous, we'll all die. The earth will die, too. It has to. No matter what we do. But, if we are all righteous, it won't be a tragic event, but a heroic one, a blessing, not a curse, much as when a prophet is translated instead of dying. One way or the other, they're taken, but one way is a release while the other is a condemnation.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Broox Nebiru That's an excellent question. I keep going back to Naram Sin. In his time, they saw the moon as being the planet of legend, perhaps because the other five had becomes such insignificant dots in the night sky. Or maybe they had passed from view altogether. Maybe Uranus and Neptune were much nearer. Maybe they were the real planets the ancients saw. But the evidence does seem to support the idea that Venus was the newcomer, the comet, and that Mars, especially with its two, coal-black moons, was the legendary hero with a thousand faces, that Jupiter was, in fact, the king of the gods, and Saturn was the black star, the black cube. So, yes, I think we've got them right.
     
     Broox Nebiru Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Wal's third part talks about the how Venus could be a younger newcomer as well.
     
     Dawn J. Shaw What makes you think Mary 'never got it' regarding her son, and who he was?
     
     Nick Bird Broox Nebiru and writhing a few days when Juno flys very close to the red spot on Jupiter they may just figure out that it's not a storm that has been raging on the surface of Jupiter for hundreds of years, but the birth canal that Venus was drawn out of. Then the great astrophysics will be faced with this question, what drew Venus out of Jupiter? I can't wait to hear what they come up. Strain at a knat and swallow a camel. Tisk tisk.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Broox Nebiru Give us a link to that.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Dawn J. Shaw Mary was the typical Jewish mother. She repeatedly failed to let Christ fulfill his mission (as in when she had Joseph pull him out of the temple) (and the fact that Jesus very clearly had to break away from the group in order to get in there in the first place), repeatedly used her maternal authority to get her way, to use Christ's power to her advantage (as in turning the water into wine, which was, basically, a cheap parlor trick). And then there were his marriages, all of which would have been arranged, and insisted upon, by Mary herself. Joseph is very clearly no longer around by then, and Christ is visibly irritated. Mary Magdalene was, for him, a bridge too far. Christ had to cast seven devils out of Mary. She was a handful.
     
     That said, Christ never let any challenge go unanswered. He didn't just meet his mother's expectations; He exceeded her expectations, and everyone else's, too. This is seen when he not only turns the water into wine, but the best wine. This is seen when he not only consents to marry this damaged girl, but then turns around and heals her soul.
     
     Mind you, that last part was only possible, though, because of the laws in the time and place. Mary's adultery would have gotten her killed. Her life was in her husband's hands. His clever defusing of the situation thus had the power to create in her a level of gratitude most of us will never know. Today, when wives cheat, they boast of it, and dare their husbands to so much as object. They drag their men into court and blame them for their own infidelity. They use the power of the state to destroy men. Not so in Christ's time.
     
     But this is all why Mary was told by Simeon that 'her heart, too, would be pierced' (alluding to the spear of Longinus). Christ would see to it. Notice that, on the cross, there is no concern for Martha, Mary, or any of his other wives. James was obliged to take care of them. But Mary was not James' mother. Mary only ever had one child: Jesus, who now hung dying on the cross.
     
     And why was he there? Because, that day, twenty-one years earlier, when Christ had the rabbis and Pharisees, the 'doctors of the law', eating out of his hand ... it was a Jay Leno moment. It was like one of those talk-show episodes where the child prodigy makes all the adults look like fools, but everyone enjoys it. Everyone has a good laugh. And everyone leaves smiling. BUT ... a 33-year old rabbi laying down the law, calling his contemporaries a generation of vipers (sons of bitches) in broad daylight, in the middle of the street, well ... that's much more like a President daring to condemn a news organization of spewing lies. And they would very clearly love to kill that President. And the 'Jews' did kill Christ. And Mary had to stand there and watch all her hopes and dreams die with her son. She would not only be childless, but homeless, hopeless, dead.
     
     Her very heart was pierced almost as literally as her son's.
     
     But, with his last breath, he finally made sure that she, too, would be taken care of like the others.
     
     Nick Bird Marcus,
     
     Here is the reference and the synopses follows
     
     https://www.velikovsky.info/Worlds_in_Collision
     
     In the preface to Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky summarized his arguments:
     
     Worlds in Collision is a book of wars in the celestial sphere that took place in historical times. In these wars the planet earth participated too. [...] The historical-cosmological story of this book is based in the evidence of historical texts of many people around the globe, on classical literature, on epics of the northern races, on sacred books of the peoples of the Orient and Occident, on traditions and folklore of primitive peoples, on old astronomical inscriptions and charts, on archaeological finds, and also on geological and paleontological material.
     Velikovsky proposes:[4]
     
     "I have endeavoured to show that two series of cosmic catastrophes took place in historical times, thirty-four and twenty-six centuries ago, and thus only a short time ago not peace but war reigned in the solar system."
     "We maintain also that one planet -- Venus -- was formerly a comet...
     "... that it joined the family of planets within the memory of mankind"
     "We conjectured that the comet Venus originated in the planet Jupiter"
     "From the fact that Venus was once a comet we learned that comets are not nearly immaterial bodies"
     "We claim that the earth's orbit changed more than once and with it the length of the year;"
     "... that the geographical position of the terrestrial axis and its astronomical direction changed repeatedly"
     "... the polar regions shifted, the polar ice became displaced into moderate latitudes, and other regions moved into the polar circles."
     "... electrical discharges took place between Venus, Mars, and the Earth when, in very close contacts, their atmospheres touched each other;"
     "... that the magnetic poles of the earth became reversed only a few thousand years ago"
     "... and that with the change in the moon's orbit, the length of the month changed too, and repeatedly so"
     "In the period of seven hundred years between the middle of the second millennium before the present era and the eighth century the year consisted of 360 days and the month of almost exactly thirty days, but earlier the day, month, and year were of different lengths."
     "We offered an explanation of the fact that the nocturnal side of Venus emits as much heat as the sunlit side"
     "... we explained the origin of the canals of Mars and the craters and seas of lava on the moon as brought about in stress and near collisions.
     "... excessive evaporation of water from the surface of the oceans and seas, a phenomenon that was postulated to explain the excessive precipitation and formation of ice covers, was caused by extraterrestrial agents."
     "We recognized that the religions of the peoples of the world have a common astral origin."
     "We learned why there are common ideas in the folklore of peoples separated by oceans"
     "The accounts given in this book about planets changing their orbits and the velocities of their rotation, about a comet that became a planet, about interplanetary contacts and discharges, indicate a need for a new approach to celestial mechanics."
     "The theory of cosmic catastrophism can, if required to do so, conform with the celestial mechanics of Newton."
     
     The book proposed that around the 15th century BCE, a comet or comet-like object (now called the planet Venus), having originally been ejected from Jupiter, passed near Earth (an actual collision is not mentioned). The object changed Earth's orbit and axis, causing innumerable catastrophes which were mentioned in early mythologies and religions around the world. Fifty-two years later, it passed close by again, stopping the Earth's rotation for a while and causing more catastrophes. Then, in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, Mars (itself displaced by Venus) made close approaches to the Earth; this incident caused a new round of disturbances and disasters. After that, the current "celestial order" was established. The courses of the planets stabilized over the centuries and Venus gradually became a "normal" planet.
     
     These events lead to several key statements:
     
     Venus must be still very hot as young planets radiate heat.[5]
     Venus must be rich in petroleum gases, and hydrocarbons.[6]
     Venus has an abnormal orbit in consequence of the unusual disasters that happened.
     Velikovsky suggested some additional ideas that he said derived from these claims, including:
     
     Jupiter emits radio noises.[7]
     The magnetosphere of Earth reaches at least up to the moon.
     The sun has an electric potential of approximately 1019 volts.
     The rotation of earth can be affected by electromagnetic fields.
     Velikovsky arrived at these proposals using a methodology which would today be called comparative mythology - he looked for concordances in myths and written history of unconnected cultures across the world, in particular following a rather literal reading of their accounts of the exploits of planetary deities. In this book, he argues on the basis of ancient cosmological myths from places as disparate as India and China, Greece and Rome, Assyria and Sumer. For example, ancient Greek mythology asserts that the goddess Athena sprang from the head of Zeus. Velikovsky identifies Zeus (whose Roman counterpart was the god Jupiter) with the planet Jupiter. Velikovsky identifies Athena with the planet Venus, although the Greek counterpart of the Roman Venus was Aphrodite and not Athena. This myth, along with others from ancient Egypt, Israel, Mexico, etc. are used to support the claim that "Venus was expelled as a comet and then changed to a planet after contact with a number of members of our solar system" (Velikovsky 1972:182).
     
     Dawn J. Shaw Marcus Aurelius Rhodes That's certainly an interesting perspective. It makes Christ sound vindictive, and God a fool for picking such an inadequate woman as an incubator. Also, who, then, is James, the brother of Jesus? Other siblings are referred to in the scriptures, as I am sure you are aware. Also, when so many women seem to have the same name (Mary), it would be great if you could be sure to clarify which one of them you are accusing of adultery, the mother of the Savior, or the woman most people presume was his wife. Do you really think that one of Christ's last acts, to protect and care for his mother, was an act of vindictiveness? To hurt her? To shame her? Wow. If that's the Savior you worship, he is a far lesser being than the Son of God I worship. Wow.
     
     Doug Lewis Marcus, so many questions: First of all, do you have a source for your lengthy post? I would like to read more about it, but a few stick out: "And then there were his marriages, all of which would have been arranged, and insisted upon, by Mary herself." Are you saying all Jesus' marriages? Where do you find discussion on this? And then, "Joseph is very clearly no longer around by then, and Christ is visibly irritated." I never thought of where Joseph might be, but that's interesting to note, but why would you say that Christ is visibly irritated? How so? What did he do or say that shows that? And finally, "Notice that, on the cross, there is no concern for Martha, Mary, or any of his other wives." ...Martha was His wife also? And a 2nd Mary also? Please explain all these. -Thx
     
     Doug Lewis Marcus, you mentioned that Saturn is the "black star, the black cube". Where do you know this from?
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes I don't see it that way at all. We are the authors of our own destruction. Christ was going to die. Christ was dying. Brutally. Cruelly. And why? Because the corrupt powers that be hated him so much. That's a pretty bitter pill to have to swallow, just as he complained to his father. What's more, it was those closest to him who were really to blame. Judas sold him out. Peter abandoned him. His mother had to share in that suffering, seeing as she bore even more responsibility for it than the others. They were just friends. She was his mother. And, rather than protecting Christ, she was protecting herself.
     
     Remember that Christ says that he will lift us up as he was lifted up. I know everyone likes to think of that as a good and pleasant thing, but it isn't. It will be terrifying. We'll be lifted up to be judged, and judged harshly. Remember that the scriptures say that even the righteous shall hardly escape, and that, if the fire will scathe a green tree, how much more the dry grass. Vindictive? Just! Christ will conquer all his enemies. How? By hunting them down wherever they are, and casting them out. If we have any of that evil spirit in us, it will be exorcised. And that's no aspirin. It's battlefield surgery. As I've pointed out before, his casting out of the evil spirits from the young man probably looked to any witnesses like the young man himself was being brutalized. Vengeful? Sure. But warranted. And Christ was showing us how it works. And that young man doesn't appear to have any complaints.
     
     James (like all Christ's siblings) was Christ's older half-step-brother. Same step-father. Different mothers. Mary never had any other children. This put Christ in the situation of being not only the child of the second wife, but also the youngest. As the youngest child, he was the last in the pecking order. Everyone told him what to do. Remember the scripture that says the last shall be first? And remember the implication in his words when his siblings came for him: You're my family if you do what I say. ... as opposed to telling me what to do. A mistake too many slip into today, telling him that he's being vindictive, telling him what it means to be Christ-like, telling the world that the very things he exemplified are mean, cruel, harsh, unkind, etc., forgetting what he went through.
     
     Also, the law in those days was that children were responsible for their own elderly parents. And Christ was adamant about this, as we saw in matter of Korban. But no one would have expected anyone to pay for anyone else's parents. That's what the temple was for. It was their form of welfare in those days. That's where Mary (Christ's mother) came from in the first place. It was unthinkable to burden someone with paying for anything/anyone outside their own family. That kind of charity was what the temple was for. That's what Christ's mother was facing.
     
     Now, as for Mary Magdalene, her 'adultery' and 'prostitution' weren't quite what we think of when we think of it today. This was sacred prostitution, viewed by those in the lands it came from much as we view going on a mission in our church, and a lot of people were involved in it, many quite sincerely, but always secretly. On the one hand, this practice had to operate in the dark, but that's not how they would have played it up back then. Back then it would have been described as being far too sacred to speak of outside the temple, and never with anyone not also 'invited' to participate in the practice. This was a result of Jeremiah's lamentations, which was akin to Nephi crying on his tower over the wickedness of the people. In Jeremiah's time, they had gotten too over in their practices. After Jeremiah exposed them, they went underground. Mary Magdalene was a victim, and this aspect of her life would have been kept secret from everyone, even those closest to her. But Christ would have known all. She was the woman brought to him for judgment. They thought they had Christ over a barrel: His most recent wife was one of the temple priestesses (prostitutes). What would 'the hanging rabbi' do about this? They thought he would be ruined either way. The pivotal piece of information was not spoken. It was drawn. On the ground. And no one recorded what it was. But we can infer.
     
     By the way, like the temple shekel, the 'sacred' prostitution required money, money which also had to be minted by the temple authorities. And this meant that one had to 'change' their Roman money for temple money. Any wonder Christ trashed them and their tables, twice? And this is why they decided to try to break him, first by exposing Mary. When that didn't work, they took a more direct approach. No more clever questions meant to make him look incompetent. No more trying to recast his work as a violation of law. No they were just going to trump up any charge at all to kill him. And the charge was one they were all guilty of: Believing that they were the sons of God, something we all say, and even sing, quite openly today, with no fear of being crucified for it.
     
     So, when judgment day comes, what will we be accused of? Claiming to be a child of God when our words and deeds prove otherwise.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Doug Lewis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Star
     
     https://www.harappa.com/script/diction.html
     
     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tefillin
     
     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaaba
     Black Star - Wikipedia
     en.wikipedia.org
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Doug Lewis Several church leaders have spoken about Christ having been married, but, ultimately, one need only do the homework, and connect the dots. And lots of other authors have written at length about this. Just do a little research. Christ can not be with Mary and Martha unless they are his immediate family members. They clearly weren't his siblings. The clearly aren't his mother and aunt. They clearly weren't his children. They can only have been his wives. This is why Martha refers to Mary as her sister. That's 'sister' as in 'sister wife'. Likewise the woman who washed his feet with her tears, who is also almost certainly Mary Magdalene again. And then, when they request Christ's body to prepare for burial. Only his mother, wife, sister, or daughter can do this. And, by the way, this was the exclusive job of the women. We see this in the death of Socrates, who bathes himself to spare the women the trouble.
     
     And what I just told you about Socrates, that is exactly the kind of research and correlation we must pursue in order to understand scripture. You can chase down every definition of every word, but that will only get you so far. You have to take the vacuum-cleaner approach to intelligence gathering. And that means reading all the other classic works. That is how, for example, we find the true definition of eternal, such as in 'eternal life'. Nowhere in scripture is this explained outright. But Aristotle tells us that what is eternal is circular, what is circular is eternal. Now it makes more sense when we read that 'his course is one eternal round'. We're talking about planetary orbits, specifically Saturn's. Just read Enoch.
     
     Doug Lewis Marcus, thank you for the links.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Katrina GL What on earth are you talking about? What has 'separatist' got to do with anything? Why do you think you know so much more than me? What makes you think that Mary was in 'no way overbearing or "typical."'? And what point are you trying to make about them fleeing to Egypt? That's what I said they did. That wasn't good enough for you? And did I in any way mention 'obscure texts'? Or Wikipedia? LDS scripture *IS* my polestar, as pretty much anyone here can, and maybe will tell you. Maybe you should spend some time with your nose in them, and stop trying to take me on.
     
     Broox Nebiru Marcus Aurelius Rhodes well we do know kne thing. Very FEW people are said to make it to the highest order of the celestial kingdom. I've always personally expected to be put in front of a firing squad for judgement, but at the same time, i can't help but feel as though you don't represent the Mercy side of Christ. He is both justice and mercy. Those who repent will be spared the rod, right? not saying that can be done perfectly here, and nearly everyone will have to be smitted to repent fully, but, Mercy is just as important as how angry he must have been in life. He is the great Jehovah after all. From what I can tell He only every lets concequences happen, and the wrath of God only comes when a person or people are in direct violation of covenant, such as the children of Israel.
     would love to hear your thoughts on this version.
     Basically what im getting at is i think there is more to christ than just his earth life, we have to look at before and after as well.
     As for the hunting his enemies down without mercy, i think you are right there, as no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of god, but i thought it was our own guilt and pain that kept the wicked out, when the mask is pulled away and you have a sure knowledge of everything you did to defy god, you wouldnt want to live with him. Moreover there are different kingdoms prepared for people so everybody will get their reward in the end, including satan, who wants nothing more to do with god and will be cast out
     
     Forgive my spelling im on my phone
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes You are right ... and wrong. Remember why all of this is happening: This temporality *IS* the mercy and patience of God. This pause in his justice is his mercy in action. Space is always associated with time in the scriptures because, as I've written before, while undeniably different, they are also inseparable. And the 'space' God gave us to repent is time, the temporal life of the earth. And that's all we have. As long as we are 'in time' (as opposed to being in eternity, such as after we die), and we have not shed innocent blood, we may repent. That is His mercy, and it is the only mercy we will be shown. Dozens of scriptures make this plain.
     
     "And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead."
     
     Moreover, we've had far too much flattery. We need a dose of smelling-salts. We need a cold slap in the face. Dozens of scriptures allude to the fact that we've been coddled, and that because it's what we wanted, because we rebelled, because we refused to endure the chastisement of the Lord.
     
     It is my calling to be that slap in the face, to be the Abinadi, the Samuel the Lamanite, the Lehi, the Jeremiah. How can I stand before God, and try to tell him that I did all I could for you, if I'm not willing to open my mouth, say the unpopular, uncomfortable thing, to take up my cross and bear it, when He died on the cross, when Abinadi died by fire? In fact, I think I feel another article coming on. Watch for it today.
     
     Broox Nebiru Marcus Aurelius Rhodes thanks for your reply and so fast too! I do beleive you as what you say does have a certain convincing allure to it. Also things that are hard to hear are often times more true than romantic ideas. thanks again for your insight
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes You are welcome, Broox Nebiru. I promise to keep it up no matter who hates me for it. And I've lost many friends and relatives over the years. My younger brother accuses me of being 'all about blood and vengeance'. Of course, given his life, one can understand his discomfort with that.
     
     Marcus Aurelius Rhodes Doug Lewis My apologies, Doug. I just noticed that I failed to respond. I think some of your questions were addressed in other replies, but as for Christ being annoyed ...
     
     First, yes, I know full well what Bruce R. McKonkie had to say about the JST, but you should know what Joseph himself had to say about it. And someone else recently addressed that in another post, so here it is: Joseph says, in the King Follett Discourse, just 4 (someone fact-check me on that) (Yes, I always write from memory.) months before his murder that it was the 'German' (almost certainly the Lutheran) Bible that was the most correctly translated, AND THAT BECAUSE OF THE HONESTY OF THE TRANSLATOR. (And *WHAT* can he mean by that?) So, I, for one, don't rely too heavily on the JST. Besides, I know what it is, where it came from, when (in the translating process) it evolved, and why it was left unfinished. So I heed Joseph Smith in discounting the JST.
     
     ... just look at what he says to his mother: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Really? You don't sense irritation in that? Tell you what. Next time your wife asks you to do something, lay that line on her. Be sure to tell me how that works out for you.
     
     Then there's the episode of his mother and siblings coming to get him. He's literally interrupted in the middle of speaking to his followers, and he has some rather pointed words: (paraphrasing) My family? Who's my family? (hint, hint: they aren't) (Remember who Christ's real father is.) (NOT Joseph.) Those who do as I say are my family. (Hint: Not those who tell me what to do.) (Which his family is rather famous for.)
     
     Then there's the time he had to tell the Nephites what his church should be called. Does that sound entirely devoid of sternness?
     
     Christ was actually famous for being harshly blunt. Just do some research into his response to the Canaanite woman, his handling of the money-changers, his rebuke of Peter after the tax-collector, his argument with Nicodemus, his rebuke of the young man possessed by spirits (which would have appeared to anyone else nearby something like Sergeant Hartman tearing into Gomer Pyle) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD4q3leE5Uw).
     
     One of the problems we have with reading archaic English is that everything sounds Shakesperian to us, and we often miss the nuances of the communication. Every semester, Nibley would find a way to squeeze in the (entirely apocryphal) tale of Socrates drowning his student (sometimes Plato, sometimes the son of a wealthy patron). So, the youth shouts out in the middle of the discourse, asking Socrates, "Master, where can I gain this great wisdom?" Socrates invites the youth to gaze upon his reflection in a pool. Upon leaning over the pool, Socrates grabs the boy by the hair, and shoves his head under the water. The others, of course, are paralyzed. (You do NOT ever dare to interfere with, or even contradict your teacher.) When the struggling stopped, Socrates let the boy's limp body fall to the ground. He then turned to leave, charging the remaining students, 'if/when he wakes up, tell him that when he wants wisdom as much as he wanted air, he'll find it.'
     
     We reel at that today, asking ourselves what was so offensive in the young man's question to warrant such a horrific response. To this, there are three thoughts:
     
     First, in those days, the training of young men was seen as something like warfare. Just look at how the Spartans raised their kids, or the Maya raised theirs (going as far as to literally tear-gas them for infractions). Remember that even in recent history, 10-year-olds served in the military, and often lost limb or even life in the process. Admiral Nelson began his Naval career at 13, lost his eye at 16, his arm at 39, and died at Trafalga at 47. And he was exceptional. Most began their careers a year or two earlier, and were buried at sea within a decade, two at the most. Life was harsh for men in those days, and society was bent on preparing them for the trials they would face. Hence Socrates' 'method'. After all, Socrates himself would be condemned to death for mere words, in spite of his years of service to the nation.
     
     Second, the young man would not have been your average public school student. He would have been an heir to wealth and privilege, and, throughout most of history, the concept of Noblesse Oblige reigned among that milieu. They were expected to earn their superior blessings through higher standards as a bulwark against revolution. Where much is given...
     
     Third, the question itself was anything but innocuous. It was flippant. We don't get that today because of cultural changes leading us to believe that such impertinence is our inalienable right, and because of translations that obscure the original meaning. The boy was essentially cutting his teacher off with the question, 'Yeah, but, I'm on a tight schedule, so where can I get the Cliff's Notes version of this boring class?' That would have been too much for Socrates, who would have been expected by the boys' parents to make an example of the boor for the others to mark.
     
     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD4q3leE5Uw
     

~~ Marcus Aurelius ~~