"Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying." – Martin Luther

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Follow-Up

For those interested (or not), the downloads have been permanently disabled by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The letter I received is a standard letter I’ve seen elsewhere on these such issues, but it reads:

I am President of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (“IRI”), and I am writing to you further to your policy concerning improper use of intellectual property in connection with your wordpress.com service.  I am hoping you can help us stop the improper copying and distribution of certain works on the Internet that infringe on our copyrights.

IRI is the owner of copyrighted materials used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I recently noticed that you are operating a site atmartinluther537.wordpress.com which contains links to material described as “Church Handbook of Instructions (2010).”  This material contains written work in which IRI claims a copyright.  Specifically, the material at issue is located at http://martinluther537.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/2010-church-handbook-of-instructions-book-1a.pdf and http://martinluther537.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/2010-church-handbook-of-instructions-book-2a.pdf (“Material at Issue”).

The Material at Issue infringes on IRI’s copyrights, so the reproduction, display, or distribution, of the Material at Issue is improper.

IRI has not authorized the use of its copyrighted materials in this manner.  Because IRI has not authorized such use, I hope you will understand IRI’s desire to stop this unauthorized copying and distribution of the Material at Issue, and I ask that you remove it from the site.

I believe in good faith that the use of the Material at Issue is not authorized by law, or by IRI or IRI’s agent; and I state, under penalty of perjury, that all of the information contained in this Notice is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on IRI’s behalf.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

/bsb/

…, President
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
50 E. North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0018
Phone:  +1 801-240-8099
Fax: +1 801-240-1187
Email: …

It is what it is.

That being said, if anyone is interested in pursuing this conversation, as described here (you’ll have to follow that link to know what I’m referring to), there are 3 ways to proceed.

A)  Subscription:  This blog will largely remain inactive from this point forward, but subscribing to it will show me your email address in an anonymous way (no one but myself will ever see it).

B)  Email:  If you don’t like that method, I can be reached at:  martinlutherlds AT hushmail DOT com.

C)  Comment to this post:  this will only work for new commenters to this site.  Submit a comment of your choosing (or nothing but an “email me” comment).  I will only approve those for visible use which pertain to the site and/or post.  All others (such as an “email me” post) will be permanently deleted.

I will maintain the 7-day time frame I originally gave, at which point things will piddle away.

Best Regards,

ML537

The Church Handbook of Instructions and Thinking on Your Own

In honor of Martin Luther, born this day (November 10th) in 1483, I open this site with the first (and possibly only) post.  This site was created with the express purpose of facilitating awareness regarding the newest iteration of the Church Handbook of Instructions (2010).

In approximately 3 days (November 13th), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will unveil, through satellite broadcast, their new 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI).  This satellite broadcast will be seen by the leadership of the church wherein they will receive training on how to implement, study and use the new CHI.  And, seemingly, will neither be recorded nor available for others to view outside of that meeting at the behest of the First Presidency of the Church™.

Just What Are the Handbooks, Anyway?

The Church Handbook of Instructions is a set of 2 books which contain instructions for area leaders as they seek to “judge” their respective congregations.  Judge might not be the appropriate word, but the basic meaning remains unchanged – the Church Handbook of Instructions is the guidepost used by area leaders across the globe as a way to help make decisions on matters of policy and, as we will see later, doctrine.

Most people give little thought to this book given that they rarely see one.  These books, which are reserved for people in leadership positions, simply don’t make the rounds in any given congregation.  In fact, I’ve even heard from some people that the old version (2006) must be turned in on the 13th in order that they might be “destroyed.”  Whatever that means is unclear to me.  Perhaps it’s a good old fashioned book burning.  Inside the CHI, definitions are given, rules are set forth and leaders are given rules by which each decision they make is verified.  Even describing them as “rules” might be a bit of a linguistic stretch, but in terms of policy and procedure, the CHI is the book (and the only) one turns to.

If a bishop needs clarification on what to do in regards to a divorce or abortion, he only need turn to the CHI (book 1) to read what the Church™ has to say about it and how the matter should be handled.  For “Abortion,” turn to p. 163 (book 1) to learn all the exceptions to the Church’s™ stance (rape or incest, competent physician’s approval, or through “divine confirmation”).  For divorce, you have your choice of pages.  Turn to pages 144-45 if your question is about baptism of children whose parents are divorced; page 58 or 80 if your question is on counseling about divorce (counsel given by priesthood leaders to those thinking that divorce might be the only option); page 19 if your question is about marriage after a divorce; page 27 if your question is on mission eligibility after a divorce; page 19-20 if your question is on a sealing after a divorce; page 21 if your question is on sealing deceased couples after a divorce; page 24 if it’s on a temple ordinance worker after he/she was divorced; page 13 if you’re wondering about a temple recommend after a divorce.

Indeed, there’s an answer for nearly everything.  And, lest you were worried, as a function of your calling, that something might arise which is not discussed in the CHI, well the very introduction to the book informs us that, “leaders who have questions about information in the handbooks or about issues that are not addressed should direct the question to their immediate presiding authority” (page V, book 1).  Therefore, if something isn’t answered in the CHI, it would be best to turn to your immediate presiding authority for clarification on how to proceed.

Likewise, if a relief society president is looking for guidance on how she should serve her members, she turns to the CHI (book 2) to find out exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.

“Relief Society prepares women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.  Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching and welfare and compassionate service.” (see page 63, Book 2).

If the relief society president is confronted with a question on what should be taught each Sunday in church, she need only flip forward to page 67 wherein she learns that the first Sunday is taught using “scriptures, the teachings of the latter-day prophets, and approved Church materials.  … use this meeting to teach the doctrines of the gospel and help sisters become actively engaged in the work of Relief Society.”

But, what about the 2nd and 3rd Sundays?  Well, that too is spelled out.

“On the second and third Sundays, the lesson is taught by a member of the Relief Society presidency or a Relief Society teacher.  She uses the current Relief Society manual.  Lessons are generally taught in the order they are presented in the manual and on the same Sunday they are taught in elders quorum and high priests group meetings.” (Ibid.)

The 4th Sunday is taught using “messages from the most recent general conference.  The stake president or bishop selects the message,” (page 68) while the fifth Sunday is at the bishop’s discretion.  See, callings aren’t so hard when a manual spells everything out, are they?

So, if you’re ever in a conundrum about what to do, the handbook spells it out for you (that’s me channeling Dr. Seuss).

Though the CHI does refer you to seek your own inspiration in your respective callings, one should rightly wonder how likely one is to seek an answer to a question that someone in the COB has already answered and plainly laid out in the CHI?  After all, we’re looking for ease and efficiency here.  Many of us are simply too busy to plaintively look to the Lord of Hosts for answers on how to plan our next meeting.  Rather than approach him in secret, it’s much easier to simply open the CHI and be told what to do.

For example, if you’re wondering what “hot drinks” means as found in D&C 89:9, instead of pondering the possible meaning, what it might have meant historically (as in when the revelation was given) or how it might apply to you today, all you need to do is open your CHI.  Book I, page 163, 17.2.11, has the answer to your question.  That particular answer is that the only “official interpretation of ‘hot drinks’ (D&C 89:9) … is the statement made by … Church leaders that the term ‘hot drinks’ means tea and coffee.”  Instead of seeking for inspiration or – dare I say – revelation from the Holy Spirit, instead we turn to the CHI and the answers are therein defined.

So, again, I ask:  what is the likelihood that someone will raise or ask a question if it’s already been answered in the “preeminent … authoritative guide for local leaders” (more on that, later)?  If you have an authoritative guide, doesn’t that presume that that is where you turn for answers?

The asking has been done (by someone else), the seeking has been done (by someone else), the knocking has been done (by someone else), so come find solace, rest and relaxation in knowing that you, too, can follow the Church Handbook of Instructions to the letter of the law and find the answers to all you’ve ever wanted to know.

These “Manuals [Are] Essential to the Sacred Work”

Or so the Church™ has suggested.  I was privy to an email someone sent an acquaintance of mine, which was then forwarded my way.  This email was discussing the November 13th broadcast where these manuals would be “unveiled” for those invited to attend – not everyone is invited, you see, just the leadership of said Church™.  In this email (from which I merely paraphrase), my acquaintance (one of those invited to the broadcast) was told that (a) the handbooks were not to be distributed, under any circumstances prior to the November 13th broadcast, (b) that the November 13th broadcast should not – under any circumstance – be recorded or copied in any way, shape or form and (c) that these handbooks simply cannot get into the possession of anyone who shouldn’t have them.  They are that sacred.  The language of the email was actually quite bizarre, but basically the handbooks are protected material, the broadcast where the training on these manuals should take place is a one-time, for “your eyes only” type affair and great care should be taken such that these manuals don’t fall into the hands of those who shouldn’t see these things.

It’s sacred, after all.

Before anyone complains about why I am posting these handbooks for private download, or why I’m even discussing the handbook in this fashion, I think we should consider a couple of things.

Scripture, Defined

Scripture, by mere definition, is largely anything considered “sacred” or “any writing that is regarded as sacred by a religious group.” Some go so far as to define scripture as “literature deemed authoritative for establishing doctrine within any of a number of specific religious traditions.”  Sounds reasonable, no?  And yet, if any of these statements or definitions are true, and I submit that they are within the Church™, then we’re faced with a problem in regards to how we read and handle the Church Handbook of Instructions at all levels.

The Bible is deemed “scripture” because it is both sacred and authoritative to general Christianity.  Some view it as a literal account of what happened, while others choose to view it as a figurative account.  But, regardless of the view they take on how or where the text came into being, all would generally agree that the contents of said Bible are both sacred and authoritative.  As in, if you have a question on any given subject, you’d best look there for the answer before heading elsewhere.  Same goes for the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™.  They both hold their adherents attention because they are both deemed sacred and authoritative.  The LDS Bible Dictionary which, although it’s technically considered a mere “study help,” was given the curious name of a “Dictionary” and placed smack dab in the middle of the Quad.  Any normal, abnormal or dimwitted person would take the word “Dictionary” and use it as a means for defining anything, really, and generally consider it authoritative.

Nevertheless, the term “scripture” in the Bible Dictionary is held to mean, “a writing, and is used to denote a writing recognized by the Church as sacred and inspired. … Latter-day revelation identifies scripture as that which is spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost (D&C 68: 1-4).”  So, in my judgment, scripture within the LDS faith can be something given either orally or in written form which is recognized by the Church™ as sacred and inspired.  Given that the CHI is prepared by “the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles … to provide uniform procedures and methods” for its leadership across the globe, can one question its inspired status?  Perhaps, and I’d welcome that questioning, but that’s not the argument we should be looking at.

The correct argument, in my opinion, is whether the CHI is viewed as inspired inside the Church.

“What does the Handbook say about this?”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ™, as well as those inside the church, hold the CHI as both authoritative, sacred, inspired and the very handbook by which leaders make decisions.  Regardless of whether any of us see the Handbook as scripture, the fact remains that Church™ itself (and her members) does regard it as scriptural.

The vast majority of members in the church never have an opportunity to either read, study or ponder upon the contents of these handbooks, given that they are strictly reserved for those in leadership positions.  And, yet, in spite of their collective lack of access, nearly everything the Church™ leaders (especially at the local level) do is governed, guided, or shaped by what’s in the handbooks.  What topics or lessons one studies on any given Sunday, what their Bishop or Branch President tells them in a meeting by way of counsel, the callings they hold or the decisions made in any given Sunday morning meeting on how to direct welfare or assistance are all largely dictated by what is found in these handbooks.

I, myself, have known more than one Bishop or leader whose answers to nearly every question were formulated by “what the handbook says.”  And it wasn’t a rare occurrence.  Though these men were great men and men I’d gladly spend personal time with, I am amazed at how quick they were to resort to what a manual said on any given topic.  In fact, nearly every Sunday morning meeting had time dedicated to studying the handbooks (coined, affectionately, “Gospel (or Spiritual) Instruction”) and then referring to them throughout the meeting when a question arose.  Matters were decided based solely on what the handbook said.  The book was held as sacred, inspired and authoritative in every sense of the words.  In matters of indecision, the vote which broke any tie was what the handbooks said.

Elsewhere, some have noted that they use the handbooks as a reference to “know where the presiding leader or whoever was leading the discussion in a meeting was coming from, or to better understand what it was [that] we were talking about. … I regularly used them in … meetings, always with positive outcomes as to what we should do.”  Others, still, have stated that the purpose of the CHI is to help “lay leaders to conform to church standards in the execution of their duties.”

It should go without saying that I hope that such experiences or sentiments were the exception and not the rule, but my personal experience in countless meetings with these leaders and others who have seen, handled and read the CHI, leads me to a drastically different conclusion.  Indeed, such reasoning by leadership is the rule, and not the exception.  As such, the collective church body has a right to these books regardless of copyright given just how intimately these books touch upon their very spiritual lives and instruction each Sunday.  Scripture, by mere definition, cannot be subject to copyright laws (a manmade legalistic concoction which simply cannot apply to “sacred” or “authoritative” writings, indeed, scripture).  Scripture belongs to the collective religious body, not some corporate “Intellectual Reserve, Inc.” which is no less than a corporation owned by another corporation, which is likely owned by another corporation or three.  Scripture has no bounds when it comes to the collective body, and yet we put restrictions and red flags all around these Handbooks as if the material contained therein is secret, exclusive and too hard for the average member to understand.

It is my personal opinion that the dissemination of these books to anyone and everyone is of the utmost importance.  Access to these books should not be limited by your calling in a church which relies on these books to guide your spiritual journey in this life.  If the Church™ is going to use these books, which are “essential” to the sacred work of the Church™, or so my acquaintance was told in his email, then every member should have an opportunity to read, study and analyze such material should they desire.  There are many who simply won’t find any interest or desire in reading such painstakingly boring legalese, but there are others who feel that transparency is better than secrecy in matters such as these.  Especially when matters of policy, procedure and culture are dictated by what these Handbooks say.

“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books …  We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms.”  – JFK

Some suggest that these books are handed out to the General authorities, church department heads, general auxiliary presidencies, temple presidents and officers in stakes, wards, missions, districts and branches, and that the handbooks are merely a matter of policy and not doctrine, but what happens within a Church™ when policy and doctrine are conflated by congregations both near and far?  Where how one is called to a calling or when what you’re wearing when passing the Sacrament is as much a doctrinal issue as how the Church deals with apostates, divorcees or the scheduling of Sunday meetings?  Wait – you mean to tell me that none of these things represent doctrinal issues?  Hmm.  Could have fooled me.  Regardless, if the net effect is an entire conflation of policy with doctrine, then access to these Handbooks simply can’t be restricted to the leadership of the same organization that dictates the policy which gets interpreted as doctrine at the local level.

It has been authoritatively claimed that,

“…the handbook is written in terms of principles … rather than explicit directions.  Local leaders apply the principles in their stakes, wards, and branches as they are directed by spiritual inspiration.  The General Handbook of Instructions is preeminent among Church publications in both its preparation and its use as an authoritative guide for local Church leaders.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Yes, indeed, that is the view from the inside.  Preeminent.  And, authoritative.  Scripture, defined.  Readers across the globe should take note.

How Did We Get Here

It was bound to happen.  As movements morph into institutions, the latter envelop the former and take control of anything and everything.  Witnesses of the institutionalization of the church, we shouldn’t be overly surprised by how the handbook has morphed from a seemingly benign document to a full-fledged manual which takes up hundreds and hundreds of pages, and thousands and thousands of words and dictates nearly every aspect of Church™ politrine (a mix of policy and doctrine).

Somehow – and this may come as a surprise to you – the Church™ managed to survive its first 70 or so years of existence without a handbook to guide Church™ leadership.  Somehow things worked themselves out, people resolved their own problems and the bureaucracy managed not to envelop everything under the sun.  Then, predictably, in response to a growing demand to help local leaders manage in-kind tithing donations of a church that had swollen in ranks to nearly 300,000 members across the globe, the Church™ published its first handbook in 1899:  a 14-page booklet the size of your shirt pocket.  In fact, it was designed to fit in your shirt pocket so that it could be a handy reference guide.  From that point until today, that “booklet” has filled the measure of its creation (and then some) and we are the ones left finding the joy therein.

This booklet was initially revised and republished every year until 1910, at which point it morphed into being revised every 5 years or so.  It stayed as one book until 1998 when it was split into the current, unwieldly 2-book system.  It had multiplied so well that it was time to divide and conquer.  Today, it continues to grow.

Here is how the handbook has grown:

1899:  14 pages

1900:  23

1901:  43

1902:  38

1903:  28

1904:  32

1905:  34

1906:  34

1908:  34

1909:  41

1910:  36

1913:  52

1921:  63

1923:  63

1928:  86

1934:  111

1940:  159

1944:  272

1963:  146

1968:  125

***There were numerous “supplements” published between 1978 and 1998, the documentation of which I skip over***

1976:  125

1978:  194

***There were numerous “supplements” published between 1978 and 1998, the documentation of which I skip over***

Early 1990s:  250

1998:  336

2006:  372 (only Book 1 was republished this year; 372 is the total of book 1 + book 2)

2010:  403 pages

It appears that the Church Handbook of Instructions has been taking its cues from the (not really) federal reserve and their inflationist policies.  You see, if you had $14 in 1899, and wanted to know how much that would be worth in today’s dollars (assuming you buy the inflation numbers the fed puts out, which I wouldn’t), you’d only have $356.  But, with the CHI, that “authoritative” handbook, you’re doing a wee bit better in that now you’ve gotten 403 pages.

The Thinking Has Been Done

Even with all the above being said, I’m not yet sure which I view as more troublesome:  (a) that the Church™ would publish such a “handbook” and reason that such politrine is absolutely essential to have in every leaders hands, or (b) that the membership would gladly accept such a “handbook.”  I’ve put enough blame on the hierarchical structure to last at least another week, but perhaps the members should step back and question whether we really need a handbook, let alone the current 403-page monstrosity.  Is the church so complex today – far more complex than it was in 1898 – that it needs a 403-page manual, or are the members that inept that they have to be told, yay commanded, in all that they do?  I’m not the type of person to go running to a church leader to ask advice on much (if anything), so I’m not a good sample, but do people really need that much counsel that such a monstrosity (I mean, honestly, two full books and 400+ pages??) was and is necessary to guide the Church™ these days?

Maybe it’s just a function of the corporation we now all belong to.  Suck it up, look up the answer in the book and move on with it already.  Stop troubling your superiors with questions that could be found in the handbook.  Never mind looking to the standard works for the answer – the Handbooks have morphed into the very scripture one needs to resolve problems of concern.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  Whereas the Spirit and the actions it inspires moves about in an unpredictable pattern (see John 3:8), we have a manual that carefully dictates just about everything we should be doing.  Check that – a manual that dictates to the leaders what we should be doing and then they dictate to us.

  • Can we really not figure out what to teach on any given Sunday?  (see book 2, page 67 for the Relief Society, and many other areas for your other auxiliaries.)
  • Do we really need guidance on how to wear the garment once in the military? (see book 1, 10.8)
  • Is it simply too hard to figure out what to do with a Patriarch?  (see book 1, 15.1 through 15.8)
  • Do we really need a handbook to tell us what to do with an infant who is “critically ill”?  (see book 1, 16.2.3)
  • Is the Lord so nitpicky that I need directions spelled out on how to consecrate my home? (see book 2, 20.11)
  • Do we really need stipulations on getting autographs or photographs of General Authorities? (see book 1, 17.1.6) – In case you were wondering, don’t even try.  “Doing so detracts from their sacred callings …”
  • Does the Church™ really need to dictate what Bible I use as part of my personal studies? (see book 1, 17.1.7)
  • What does the Church™ say about dating or “get acquainted” businesses?  (see book 1, 17.1.15)
  • Confused about how to fast, or what a fast is?  (See book 1, 17.1.19)
  • Want to research something on the Church™, you might want to check the handbook.  (See book 1, 17.1.39)
  • Need to get hypnotized, but not sure if the Church™ would approve?  (see book 1, 17.2.5)
  • Confused about Word of Wisdom definitions? (see book 1, 17.2.11)
  • Want to serve a mission, but not sure if you’re worthy enough?  (see book 1, 4.5.2)
  • Starving, out of food and think the Church™ can help?  (see book 1, 5.2.3, hint:  you’re on thin ice here, this section is on “promoting personal responsibility.”  You might want to be more responsible next time around so that you don’t need to ask for help.)
  • Still not sure why you were called to a “Court of Love”?  (see book 1, 6.1)
  • Wondering if you, too, are defined as an apostate?  (see book 1, 6.7.3)
  • Not sure if you were served proper “notice” of your “Court of Love”?  (see book 1, 6.10.2)
  • Questioning whether a Stake President has the ability to judge your worthiness?  (see book 1, 7.1)
  • Still wondering what the purpose of your Priesthood Executive Council is?  (see book 2, 4.3)
  • Need help writing the agenda for your Sunday morning meetings?  (see book 2, 4.6.2)
  • Still confused about how to act on what you collectively decided to do in your Sunday morning meetings?  (see book 2, 4.6.3 – “Undertaking a Course of Action”)
  • Got sent to Gospel Principles Class and want to know why?  (see book 2, 5.2.8)
  • Want to call the Bishop as your youth sports coach team, but not sure if that is kosher with the COB™?  (see book 2, 8.3.7)
  • Still unsure about what your role as a parent is (hint:  you probably should have asked that before having kids, but still)?  (see book 2, 10.2)
  • Not sure what standards of life your young woman/daughter should be living?  (see book 2, 10.5 – hint: it’s in another book.  For the Strength of Youth.)
  • Just can’t quite get down what should or shouldn’t be shared in YW Opening Exercises?  (see book 2, 10.6.1)
  • Not sure how to plan Primary to fill the time such that those little rug rats aren’t running wild by the end of the 2 hours?  (see book 2, 11.4.1)
  • Concerned about whether your Primary program content is appropriate?  (see book 2, 11.5.4 – hint:  “in keeping with the sacredness of sacrament meeting, the presentation should not include visuals, costumes, or media presentations.”  Whoo.  And I thought it was the Sacrament and not the meeting that was sacred.)

Well, hopefully you get the drift.  And, to satiate that last burning question:  yes, there is an answer to that, too.  Just head to the index – “sex education” (and a whole host of topics you never dreamt of) can be found on page 196 of book 2 (21.4.11) and page 166 of book 1 (17.3.11), as well as in many other areas (see the index headings for “Pornography”, “Homosexual Behavior”, “Serious Transgressions”, “Fornication” and a pile of other terms for a better discussion).  Oh, and guide dogs are not permitted in the temple.  Dumb question.  Don’t even ask.  (See book 1, 3.3.3.)

Maybe it’s just a function of society at large, and the church and her members are just symptoms of a much larger disease.

Conclusion

From just a cursory review of these two handbooks (and, no, I frankly don’t care if I ever open them again so long as I shall live), it’s safe to say that once the Brethren have come to an agreement on all of these issues, truly, the “thinking has been done.”  And really, it has.  I mean, who has time to actually look into such inane politrine?  Just about everything is covered except how to put your garments on in the morning.  Just make sure they don’t touch the floor.  (See book 1, 3.4.5.)

But, be careful at just who you point the finger of blame at.  We may all be to blame for the immense structure of control that has befallen us.  We may all be to blame for our inability to think, our inability to reason and our constant yearning to look to our “leaders” for guidance.  We may all be to blame for our needing (and wanting) a 403 page manual on how to live life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™ (and, yes, that hyphen is in the trademarked name).   We may all be to blame for the fear that exists when you actually contemplate thinking on your own, outside the box of what your parents, your leaders, your church™ and your society tells you to think.

As John Taylor Gatto explained in his expose on the evils of public, compulsory schooling:

“…individuality, family, and community are, by definition, expressions of singular organization, never of “one-right-way” thinking on the grand scale.  Private time is absolutely essential if a private identity is going to develop, and private time is equally essential to the development of a code of private values, without which we aren’t really individuals at all.  Children and families need some relief from government [and church] surveillance and intimidation if original expressions belonging to them are to develop.  Without these, freedom has no meaning.”

[As an aside:  Justin noted over at LDSA how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™ are nearly two-thirds less likely than the rest of the nation to home school their kids.  In my own  thoughts on why that was/is the case, the only reason I could think of – and by no means does this imply it’s the only possible reason, just the only one I could conjure up – for such a disparity is our penchant, as members of the Church™, to be obsequious and fawning in our admiration of leadership.  That is to say, we look and indeed yearn for leaders in all stages of our lives.  Want education?  Go to school and find a good teacher.  Want religion?  Go to church and listen to your bishop, stake president, general authority or apostle or prophet (institutional definition).  Then quote them, liberally, when you need an authority to back up your beliefs. Want money?  Go to school to learn.  Want good advice?  Find a certified counselor.  Want to know where to invest your money you went to school to earn?  Find a certified financial planner.  Want to know what you should believe about this or that religious topic?  Find an approved Church™ manual.  And on and on – this list really is endless.  Perhaps the LDS faith instills in us – and I highly doubt that it’s on purpose, but maybe it is – an overly confident view of leadership and leaders and, as such, we fawn over them, trip over them and follow them no matter what.  After all, they simply cannot lead us astray, no matter how hard they might try.  As such, when it comes to schooling our kids, we naturally turn to the certified public school teacher because, well, they’re certified and way more qualified than we are to teach our own children.  That, and we’re too busy dabbling in Babylon to give a rats patoot about that part of their lives.  And so it goes, but I apologize for the tangent.]

And, in the end, I’m left wondering what Brother Joseph would think if he were to walk into a Priesthood Executive Meeting next Sunday.  Oh, wait, the 2nd Sunday of the month might be reserved for Ward Council meeting (see Book 2, 6.2.2 and 6.2.3 for detials when and where each meeting should happen).

Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time we put these handbooks down and start to think for ourselves.

Go ahead.  Follow that last link.  ;)  No, really.  You should think for yourself.

Now that you’re at least a little more cognizant of the idea, watch this video and see if it might apply to you.  It probably does.  But then, you’ve been told that you (heck, we all have) were reserved for this time, a choice generation reserved to come to earth at this very special time and, as such, the only way you can be special is to maintain fealty to the Church™.  The only way we can maintain that direct train to the Celestial Kingdom is to follow the Church™, avoid any ideas or questions that challenge the status quo, run to the closest manual or handbook or Ensign or favorite general conference talk for advice counsel and continue on merrily down the road.  All is Well in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™, yay, the Church™ prospers exceedingly.

Sadly, when I read the following verses, I see the Church™ (as well as her members) offering the same rationale in much of what we do:

And now, O king, behold, we are aguiltless, and thou, O king, hast not sinned … And behold, we are strong, we shall not come into bondage, or be taken captive by our enemies; yea, and thou hast prospered in the land, and thou shalt also prosper.

A justification to continue merrily along our way.  We’re prospering (Just look at our growth!  Temples, membership records, genealogy, and on and on, a veritable stream of growth coming from downtown Salt Lake City), we shall always prosper and we’re all guiltless and without sin.

The Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets so that we could condemn others – other people, cultures, religions, social mores and traditions – and certainly does not condemn us, either as a people or a Church™ in any way, shape or form.  Whatsoever.

And so it is.

P.S.  The Church and the Gospel are not the same thing.

P.S.S. Babylon is not Zion.  (That link will only be free until Friday, after which it, too, will go the way of Babylon.)

P.S.S.S. General conference talks are not scripture no matter how many times you say otherwise (though they might be, but then that puts responsibility back on your shoulders and that’s a bad thing, isn’t it?).

P.S.S.S.S.  We do not need another handbook, or manual.  What we need in the Church™ is the Spirit.

Just in case you were wondering.

The following links will be live for 7 days (link #1 and link #2).

After that time, they will go the way of all the earth.

And, yes, that’s just how I roll.

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