Sunday, May 25, 2014

Faith, Healing, the Weak and the Meek

D&C 35:7-15:
"And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all people."  
We are identified with the Gentiles.  (D&C 109.60)  We, meaning those receiving the revelations and commandments.  Our follies and abominations shall be made manifest.  What are they?  Does abominations mean sexual sin, or something more pervasive?  I believe it means our following after false gods, but I could be wrong.

"For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miracles, signs, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name.  
(In the original writing of this revelation, the word "not" is not included.)  Do I believe enough to be shown miracles?  Signs?  Wonders?  Have I received miracles?  Have I received signs?  How about wonders?  I believe so.  I see signs in everything, from my kids bringing me inspired gifts, to messages in license plates, to flowers that seem to bloom just for my eyes.  Definitely wondrous!

"And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk."
Hmmm.  Have I asked to cast out devils?  Yes.  Have I healed the sick with faith in Jesus' name?  I don't know.  I pray as I work on massage clients that their infirmities will be healed, but I honestly can't say for sure.  Have I asked to have blind receive their sight?  Deaf to hear?  Dumb to speak?  Lame to walk?

I only know one physically blind person.  I wonder if she has asked to be healed.  Years ago my mother was searching for healing, and went to some of the finest hospitals in the land.  I remember wondering why her Priesthood blessings didn't work enough, and why she had to become an inpatient in these various places.  (Interesting wordplay on "inpatient" vs "impatient".)  She was told her body would naturally regenerate from her condition, and after 7 years would be healed.  Why wait so long?  Where was her faith?  Isn't this promised in the scriptures?  Why could she not be healed???  Where are our miraculous healings?  Why are our hospitals full, and healthcare one of the biggest problems our nation faces?  Should we not be able to have adequate faith to heal by the thousands?

"And the time speedily cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children of men; But without faith shall not anything be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon, the same which has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

Hugh Nibley openly describes Babylon as the marketplace.  It is mammon, finances, money, capitalism.  I was an avid capitalist for many years of my life.  I still believe in "free markets", however I also believe in the commands to have "no poor among us".  My blindness to my folly is being healed.

Without faith NOTHING shall be shown, except desolations upon the moneys of the world - the same which has made us drunk, essentially.  Or perhaps there is different meaning there.  All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her (her meaning Babylon?) fornication.  Fornication is a big word, implying cheating, infidelity, disloyalty, sexual sin.  We have united ourselves, physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to the false money gods, which is what we worship over the true principles revealed.

"And there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth unto this generation."

Do I do good?  Am I ready to receive the fulness of Christ's gospel?  So what if the church as a whole may reject it, or not live up to its needs.  What about ME?  God has already declared that NONE doeth GOOD, except those who are ready.  Am I ready yet?  What hinders me from being ready?

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately that bemoan the current condition of the LDS church.  I get it.  I tend to get sucked into the cause, however it's time to stop bemoaning it, and start focusing on what needs to be done.  Stir the burnt milk off the bottom of the pot, and strain it out.  And if you can't strain it out, at least get it OUT of YOU!  What are changes that you and I can do to strain out the crap that's burnt on the bottom of our pans?
"Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit;" 
It's interesting – I can't hold a Bible-bash conversation to save my life.  I don't enjoy contention, so taking on any kind of scholar, even by commenting on blogs, is very intimidating to me.  I'll have all sorts of witty things rolling through my mind in response to other commentors, but rather than attempt to share my thoughts, I back off.  This is likely not me, even though I consider myself weak.

But thrash the nations?!  By the POWER of His Spirit?  Those are power packed words, especially when compiled with the weak things, the unlearned, the despised, and in essence, the cast aways.  What are we doing to clench onto the power of this electric, blinding-light, thing called "Spirit"?

"And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their enemies shall be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them." 
This past week I had opportunity to talk face to face with someone who represented someone I was once very intimidated by.  This might sound confusing, but in essence, I was bullied by someone who had an identical twin.  I've passed this twin multiple times over the past two years, nearly every time I would enter my children's school for some event.  Each time I avoided making eye contact, especially because I couldn't tell if this was the bully herself or the twin.  She made my life hell, in the sense that for a very long time, I was quite afraid to live and function in the school I attended.  I cowered.  And over two decades later, do I want to acknowledge her, especially if it's just her twin?

Something possessed me the other day to approach her in passing and ask if she was the twin.  She was; not the bully, thank you Jesus!  I wondered what in the world I had been afraid of.  I also wondered what I found so intimidating about her sister in the past.  I'm sure she could still be intimidating, but the respect, the worship, the beauty I used to see in her disappeared.  I felt as if all my prayers to overcome the baggage I carried from this person were being answered, and the fears released; as if my arm was his arm, He was my shield, and my buckler, should I have needed one.  My loins were girded up, and my "enemy" was under my feet.  He fought my battles, and I came out protected.  Even better yet, in her perfectly coiffed hair, I noticed split ends, and had to laugh inside.  If she ever reads this, I mean no offense.  There really was nothing wrong with her, but my fears were overcome and healed.  It's likely I'll never see her sister again either, and if I did, I honestly don't think I'll care.

"And the poor and the meek shall have the gospel preached unto them, and they shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand –"
Who are the poor and the meek?  Poor in finances, or poor in spirit?  Or both?  Who are the meek?  What is meekness?  And what is the real gospel, which is preached to them?  What does it take to be meek?

A soft answer turneth away wrath.  The meek are those who see no need to fight.  They have no need to retaliate, nor to defend their good names.  They surely don't like injustice, but they deal with it and remain faithful.  I seek to be meek.  This is one of the greatest challenges that anyone can face.  Christ is meek, and here promises that those who are poor and meek shall have His gospel preached to them.  I wonder if He means a face to face visit there.  

Me Eider

My husband and I, joined by our 4 year old, ate Chinese for lunch this past week.  My husband was on his lunch break, and after leaving to return to work, little Daniel and I remained.  Daniel took his daddy's chair sitting across from me.  Across the narrow aisle were two men, obviously landscapers by profession, also on their lunch break.  Daniel wanted ice cream.  I got mint chocolate chip.  He got vanilla with blue stripes.  

The landscaper across the aisle, says to his friend sitting across from him, "I don't like grapes with seeds in them."  

"Me eider," says Daniel, continuing to eat his ice cream.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kombucha vs Hot drinks

A few weeks ago, a friend shared with me what is called a scoby, or kombucha starter.  It's a fermentation of tea (?) that is supposed to have all sorts of beautiful health benefits.  I wanted to make my own, because the ones in the store are supposedly all made with black or green teas.  I've been taught to avoid those types of teas because of the Word of Wisdom.

In D&C 89 it reads in verse 9, "And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly."

Several years ago I read a book called Joseph Smith as Scientist, by John A. Widtsoe.  The main thesis of the book is to point out that the Word of Wisdom as absolutely inspired, as there was little to no scientific evidence of any of the health facts at the time regarding many of the substances referenced.  He points out that this was absolutely a revelation, and by revealing it, Joseph was indeed a revelator.  Agreed!  

With this in mind, I would like to point out a few things, and raise a few questions.  But first let me say I have no problems abstaining from the things we are told to abstain from.  I've never tried wine.  Never smoked once.  Never tried coffee or black tea, and really the thought disgusts me.  I have no desire to break any "commandments", although I believe God was very clear upon revealing this that it was to be use "not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days" (vs. 2).  Question 1: why would God reveal through Joseph something that was NOT to become a commandment, and then turn around with Brigham and say, "Nah, changed my mind.  It really IS a commandment.  Just kidding!"

After all, it is "Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints" (vs. 3).  It's given for a principle, not a law.  And what a beautiful promise!  If it were a commandment or constraint, many might falter, and be prohibited from beautiful blessings.  So it's not a commandment or constraint, right Jesus?  But wait.

The traditional narrative I was always taught was that Brigham received a revelation changing all this.  It's somewhere in our history books somewhere (or been lost to history), so we just assume it's true because it's what we've been told.  At least I've always believed that, hence never having tried it.

One documented record reports that many years after we believe Brigham to have "changed" this to a commandment, that he was still struggling with giving up his tobacco habit.  How could this be???  By saying this am I un-sustaining my leaders?  Absolutely not!  I'm just saying the documentation of this becoming a "commandment" I would assert implies differently than what we pass along by word of mouth.  Does Brigham approve of this, if we were to lay claim to our stance on him?  Would he approve, if he knew the course we have taken in turning his words into a commandment when God has indicated otherwise?  Do our current leaders today give us guidance here?  Sure.  Year after year there is undoubtedly a Conference or Ensign talk that hammers this home.  Do they have a source to point me to for when this changed from what is canonized to what we accept as true?  A scholar was granted access to our history annals to dig up some official sources, but nothing was found.  However it was found that things changed officially after Prohibition.
Some will say that our current prophet and leaders have received modern revelation on this.  Is this true?  Or are we simply following a tradition, as we did with blacks and the Priesthood?  (Poor Brigham can't get a break with this stuff!)

Back to verse 9.  Hot drinks.  Hot drinks.  One online blogger I found today said that Brigham said Joseph said this was tea and coffee.  (Sounds like a game of telephone!)  And then somehow we know that it's black tea and green tea.  The same source I mentioned actually had arguments about which plant it is, down to the scientific name, and then went into tanic acid vs. caffeine.

A few verses after verse 9 God explains which grains are good for various animals, and delineates between wheat, corn, rye, barley and oats.  Let's put 2 and 2 together.

God knows the difference between wheat, corn, rye, barley and oats.  If He has a preference that we avoid black and green teas, and that herbals are ok, as well as hot chocolate, Stevens' Pumpkin Spice, or any other hot drink, why not delineate between them?  If He prefers that we don't drink mate (Argentina - sorry, I'm too lazy to find the accent for the e!), or Iced Tea, why not delineate?

Any why do we delineate?  It's hot drinks!  Is it warm drinks?  I would think it would have been clarified.  Why didn't Joseph clarify too, if he knew what it was?  Apparently it was obvious then, but only when we start nit picking and imposing judgment on others is when the trouble arises.  I say I'll agree with the Lord; hot drinks are not for the belly.  Agreed.  Sustained.  Done!  No trouble here Bishop.

So what of kombucha?  That's where this whole post came from.  Jury's still out.  I made mine with herbal tea, but it was certainly cooled.  It's ready now to be used, but most websites I'm reading are saying it's imperative to have the black or green tea to keep the pH at a certain level, or to maintain the health of the scoby and to not pass on pathogens.  So all my work in preparing this carefully might be in vain.

Maybe I could ask God and get an answer for myself on that?  He's actually the best resource I could go to - better than Google, for sure.  Any thoughts on this one?  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thee, Thou, Ye, You

In my studies today, I was in D.&C. Section 30s, meaning I've been digging around in Section 30 thru 34 or so.  I opened up my awesome copy of the Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations Vol. 1, and found the corresponding copies of the original manuscripts.  A few thoughts I'd like to share.

The archaic language of the original is largely edited.  Any reference from original dictation of "thee", "thou", "ye", etc. are all changed to "you".  Of late I have been reading some who enjoy praying with "you" instead of the older-style words.  I thought to give it a try myself.  Surely this crossing-out implied that while Joseph received it in the archaic style, those of his day were more apt to say and better understand "you".  What does it tell us?  Does God speak in Thees and Thous?

Another fun one: D&C 34:3-4 says in my leather bound, 1981 edition,

"Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God.  Wherefore you are my son; And blessed are you because you have believed;"

Original copy records to thusly (although my copy may not have all the editing notations in the manuscripts):

Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the Sons & daughter of God: Wherefore ye are my son, and blessed are you because ye have believed"
From Beloved Enos I learned to read this differently as well.  I won't spoil the fun by sharing, but point  you toward that Snuffer book.  (Kindle version costs less than many fast food dinners.)  It has opened my eyes up to some beautiful, beautiful discoveries when it comes to these kinds of word labels.