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

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.


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.

105 responses

  1. Pingback: I am Bound by the Scriptures | Zo-ma-rah

  2. need2know

    Link #1 and Link #2 give an error message that “the file is damages and cannot be repaired.” Anything you can do?

    November 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm

  3. need2know

    Never mind. My fault. Thanks.

    November 10, 2010 at 6:44 pm

  4. Did you get the link to work? Someone sent me an email saying the same thing as you. Suppose I need to know if they’re downloading properly.

    November 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm

  5. James Steven Graham

    A sad, but interesting post. It would be interesting to compare the current handbook with the new one. BTW, how does one obtain a copy of a handbook which has yet to be released?


    November 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  6. Sad in which way?

    In my opinion, they probably aren’t much different than the 1998 or 2006 versions. Just bigger. Someone may look into that, but I have no interest in comparing the two at this point.

    Look at links #1 and #2 towards the bottom of the original post, after the “P.S.” section.

    November 10, 2010 at 7:43 pm

  7. James Steven Graham

    Sad that we have degenerated to the point where we have no “need” to seek the spirit.

    The links are for the 2010 manuals, right? I was wondering about comparing them to the current versions.

    Thanks, Steve

    November 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm

  8. dan

    I think the biggest question asked here, is why do the members allow it? How can we allow our whole live to be dictated by other men?

    And how can a religious group allow such Unrighteous Dominion (amen) over all the members of that group? Why do we?

    Merely because it is easy I suppose. And because we are ignorant, and this very thing has serve to propagate that exact ignorance to a prolific degree. The Jews of Christ Day have nothing on us!

    “President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel [see, for example, verses 9-10: ‘If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing…the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.’]…said the Lord had declared by the Prophet [Ezekiel], that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church — that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls — applied it to the present state [1842] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall — that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves…”

    “Therefore, let every man stand or fall by himself, and not for another, or not trusting another; [not even the President of the church? consider:]

    “…And if thine eye [The President of the Church] which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out. [By the Gospel law, as given in D&C 107:81-84.]

    “It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

    “For it is better that thyself should be saved than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.”

    JST Mark 9:44-48

    November 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  9. Anon

    Can’t get the links to work. They both say the files are permanently damaged…

    November 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  10. Latter-day Guy

    Hoo-boy! Thanks for the links (they downloaded just fine for me).

    November 11, 2010 at 1:26 am

  11. Pingback: A thought on Handbooks and Jews – -Weeping For Zion-

  12. need2know

    It worked when I right-clicked, and then choose “save link as” or “save target”

    November 11, 2010 at 1:51 am

  13. hopeful

    I’d love it if you could could repost the files in a way they’d be accessible. Maybe you could create a new blog just for the purpose of posting

    November 11, 2010 at 2:42 am

  14. You mean as opposed to just a download?

    November 11, 2010 at 2:44 am

  15. hopeful

    Oops, I just wasn’t patient enough. After 5 minutes, it worked.

    It would be pretty easy to use Adobe Acrobat Pro or Scansoft software to turn your pdf copies into searchable text files.

    Any interest?

    November 11, 2010 at 2:59 am

  16. Absolutely.

    Send me an email: martinlutherlds – at – gmail.com

    November 11, 2010 at 3:03 am

  17. Thank goodness for Wikileaks. I downloaded the CHI off of there some time ago though the quality was not as good as the ones I just saved from your link. I was wondering how long I would have to wait for Wikileaks to have the 2010 but you are great, thanks for the effort and putting the 2010 up for grabs before it is even “official”.

    November 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

  18. It's Not Me

    The church isn’t controlling anybody. Don’t want to keep a commandment? Don’t. Don’t want to pay tithing? Don’t. Don’t want a handbook? Don’t take one. Sounds like somebody here is the one who can’t think for him/herself. If you don’t like the church, find a different one. Nobody’s forcing you to be a member or believe, or whatever.

    November 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

  19. Averei

    I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. The Book of Mormon is true too. I know this for a fact. But I am also seeing that the LDS church leaders are trying (and succeeding after a fashion) to control what information people have access to. If you look for yourself, and it doesn’t take much looking you can see that what is now taught officially by the apostles and is in the manuals too is at odds with what the Lord says in the books revealed through Joseph Smith. This is not a stretching of the truth. Look at what the Lord said about Zion and the gathering to it in the D&C. Then read what the church says from lds.org. Under gather to Zion. You will see it is not according to what the Lord said.

    November 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm

  20. Senile Old Fart

    Ah, but it is my church, too. Just as much as it is yours, or theirs. Enough with the “love it or leave it” suggestions.

    November 11, 2010 at 5:12 am

  21. britt k

    I love that the very first lines of the new handbook say this… church leaders seek personal revelation to help them learn and fulfill the duties of their callings…studying the scriptures and the teachings of latterday prophets will help…Keaders also learn their duties by stufying the instructions in church handbooks. These instructions can fascilitate revelation IF they are used to provide an understanding of principles, policies and procedures to apply WHILE seeking the guidance of the spirit.” emphasis mine..

    the thinking has been done to make the book of instructions but in its application the thinking has only just begun.

    Don’t drag homeschooling into this..I know some perfectly wonderful people who don’t homeschool based on personal revelation. There are different plans for different families…it’s not like Moses would have built an ark if he had only been righteous enough.The princple of a good education can be reached in a variety of ways…says the homeschooling mom who is also the wife of a public school teacher

    continue on enjoying your conspiracy theroy

    November 11, 2010 at 7:54 am

  22. Allen

    I find it ironic that a person goes on a diatribe about how the mere existence of and “secrecy” concerning the CHI means we aren’t led by the spirit, that we are sheep, and that we don’t think for ourselves.

    And, yet, this person chooses to remain anonymous in posting this material. Martin Luther had a real name and he wasn’t afraid to use it.

    This guy claims secrecy for himself that he won’t respect when the Church claims it.



    November 11, 2010 at 8:42 am

  23. Ralph

    Uh, Britt K:

    Didn’t NOAH build the ark?

    Or, are you referring to the Ark of the Covenant?

    Just checking.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

  24. Thanks for your thoughts.

    As to homeschooling, it’s neither a conspiracy “theory,” nor am I particularly enjoying it. I prefaced the entire conversation as being an “aside” and stated my own personal thoughts about it. In any statistical relationship things would trend toward more normalization in that area given a variety of factors, absent a compelling reason or two to explain away the difference, and that is what I was trying to do. And, yes, you are right and entirely correct: there is an individual plan for everyone. However, please don’t assume that I’m enjoying some “conspiracy theory” simply for pointing out the statistical anomaly, and stating one possible reason to explain such an anomaly. I wasn’t suggesting or implying that everyone should homeschool (I don’t), but rather that the statistical representation should be more evenly distributed than it currently is. Is there a better or more likely reason why the huge disparity (and by sheer statistics, that difference is rather large) exists? Just my curiosity.

    Are you aware of what happened in the early 1990s with regards to some members who homeschooled their kids?

    November 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

  25. joeslow

    I see no reason to have to leave the church just because I disagree with it’s current practices. Rather I think it is more beneficial make a small effort to help show to other the apostasy that has come into the church. And maybe someday we can get things back on track.

    So britt k, say a person received confirmation from the Lord that they were to take an additional wife. Is there any chance that a leader would seek the spirit, the spirit confirming that person really should take an additional wife, and then that leader permitting it? Or would the leader simply read in the handbook that Plural Marriage is apostate and then out goes that member.

    If policies trump the Spirit, then does a phrase in a handbook telling leaders to “[seek] the guidance of the spirit,” really matter?

    November 11, 2010 at 9:18 am

  26. Thanks for your comment.

    Like the Senile Old Fart who posted, please don’t assume that because I don’t agree with everything that’s going on that I should be the one to leave. We all have a right (and obligation, if you ask me) to question. For one such example I’d read this and it’s follow-up as a couple of examples that I agree with.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:19 am

  27. Thanks for your thoughts Allen. I recognize what you’re arguing, but don’t assume that the conclusions you draw are correct (but, then again, mine may not be either).

    I chose this forum because my writings, in the past, have been used as a way to enact some minor church discipline (in various forms or another) that have indeed come between my family and I. While I would normally love to tell you who I am, or be more upfront, there’s a difference in seeking secrecy because of the friction this would inevitably cause within my family (thanks to the Church and the administrative units where I spend my time), and the secrecy an organization keeps by way of “preeminent” and “authoritative” handbooks that very much effect the LDS church and the culture it fosters every day of the year. This blog and this post will have a necessarily limited effect. Those handbooks have a far greater impact than any of us might know. Facilitating their dissemination is what I felt I needed to do given the reverence with which they are treated and used throughout the Church.

    If you recognize our individual right to lead our lives the way we feel so led to do, in whatever way we feel so inspired (not saying I am), then perhaps you can grant me the leeway to perform this task however I see fit. And, while the disconnect may be obvious, there are factors at play that you simply know nothing about – nor should you know anything about – and I would ask for your understanding in that matter.

    November 11, 2010 at 9:29 am

  28. Allen

    How would you react if the Church (or its leaders) said “there are factors at play that you simply know nothing about – nor should you know anything about – and I would ask for your understanding in that matter.”

    There isn’t a disconnect here; there is a double standard. You claim for yourself something that you aren’t willing to grant to others, albeit the “other” in this case is an institution.


    November 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

  29. Because the Church is a corporate institution, while I am an individual with a very real family. The Church(tm) is an organization, an institution, an entity that has no feelings and yet you are referring to it as if it did. Regardless of the differences between what the Church is supposed to be (D&C 10:67-69) and what we regard it as today, the Church is still a corporation and no matter how the SCOTUS redefines a corporation, that does not (nor can it) change the truth of the matter.

    Disconnect or not, I appreciate your thoughts. I do wonder if the standard you’re applying to me is indeed applied elsewhere. Maybe I will put my name out there, complete with my birth date and administrative unit. Just to appease the masses. 😉

    November 11, 2010 at 9:42 am

  30. Stuff I learned as an undergrad:

    Anthropology 101: The value of written language and written culture is well established.

    Business Administration 101: The value of mission, vision, policy, and procedure is well established.

    Book of Mormon 101: The value of the iron rod is most appreciated when surrounded by the midst of darkness (includes personal prejudice and frustration).

    Logic 101: Those in leadership positions are soley qualified to assess the value of the instrument to those in leadership positions.

    Literature 101: Philip Kindred Dick is the Father of Paranoid Fiction.

    Health 101: Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is treatable.

    World Religion 101: Martin Luther’s contribution to modern religion and personal spituality compared to a sanctimonious blog?

    November 11, 2010 at 9:56 am

  31. there are a gazzillion contradictions between the scriptures and the official teachings of the church (from the pulpit in SLC and in the church’s manuals). the church has gone far astray from god’s intention, and that fact is very easy to demonstrate from the four standard works of the church.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

  32. EdgeReiver

    FYI: I could not get the pdf’s to download with Firefox but was successful with IE8.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:23 am

  33. excellent post, dan. right on! this is precisely the kind of information that members of the church need as they try to sort things out.

    you have asked a question: why do the members allow it? if there is an answer to that question, it is probably an answer neither pleasant nor pretty. ‘nuf said for now.

    November 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

  34. Justin

    Ah, but it is my church, too. Just as much as it is yours, or theirs. Enough with the “love it or leave it” suggestions.

    Senile old fart — your name should change to Wise old fart.

    November 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

  35. Chuck

    Thanks for posting this.

    Unless the church has reservations about the information, they should have no need to be concerned.

    All processes and information should be open for scrutiny, peer review and discussion – this is the fastest way to progress.

    November 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm

  36. Anonymity is useful. All my life when I expressed my views people would reject them because they knew the messenger. It is just human nature, I suppose. No one can separate a message from the messenger. Anonymity counters this tendency.

    November 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

  37. ElderOldDog

    The downloading was smoothly done. An aquaintance in an online community did a forum post in which he gave a dropbox.com URL where these will always be available.

    Now… When do think you’ll be posting a video of the 11/13 presentation?

    November 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

  38. Jon Edwards

    My opinion of the blogger on this website:

    Sung to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Dancing Machine”

    Ranting, ranting, ranting
    He’s a ranting machine
    Ah, baby, move it, baby
    Automatic systematic
    Full of color self contained
    Tune that shadow to your vibes
    Captivating stimulating
    He’s such a sexy dude
    Filled with space age design
    He’s moving grooving
    Ranting to the music stop now, yeah
    Rythmetic acrobatic
    He a dynamite attraction
    At the drop of a coin he comes alive, yeah
    He knows what he’s doing
    He super bad now
    He’s here to really blow your mind
    Ranting, ranting, ranting
    He’s a ranting machine
    Ah, baby, do it, baby
    Ranting, ranting, ranting
    He’s a ranting machine
    Ah, baby, move it, baby
    He’s a rant, rant
    Rant, rant, ranting machine
    Watch him get down, watch him get down
    As he do, do, do his thing right on the scene
    He’s a rant, rant
    Rant, rant, ranting machine
    Watch him get down, watch him get down
    As he do, do, do his thing right on the scene
    Come on, baby
    Come on, baby
    Ooh, baby
    Ooh, baby
    Shake it, baby
    Shake it, baby
    Ooh, baby
    Ooh, baby
    I like it
    I like it
    I like it
    I like it
    He’s a rant, rant
    Rant, rant, ranting machine
    Watch him get down, watch him get down
    As he do, do, do his thing right on the scene
    He’s, a rant, rant
    Rant, rant, ranting machine
    Watch him get down, watch him get down

    November 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  39. churchy momma

    I live in Utah county, Utah and have been given so much crap by fellow members, family AND friends for homeschooling that it causes me to pause on the matter. I didn’t know the stats but am not surprised most do not homeschool and it also explains the outrage surrounding the topic. I didn’t know such an act could fuel so much debate. Its difficult to be a member and walk to the beat of your own drum. Its uncomfortable. It would be much easier to drone out and do things because everyone else is doing them from the style of my hair, to number of kiddos had, cars driven, and various other cultural BS that must be endured here including enrolling my kiddos into public school!
    I loved this blog! We’ve needed a LDS Martin Luther for quite some time. The church seems so obviously in apostacy and those of us who take care to notice are marginalized! I’ve been praying about the matter and seeking answers and the scriptures have been screaming that I am right. The last days aren’t talking about others churches my brothers and sisters, its talking about OURS! “All is well in zion!” Pfffft all is not well.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

  40. Dan

    Speaking of calling missionaries,

    “If the bishop and stake president are unsure about recommending a member who has any of these challenges, they may consult with the missionary department at (1-801-240-2179)….”(4.5.3)

    This is pattern, with phone numbers given repeatedly when a bishop can’t figure something else out.

    The great thing is, the spirit now has a phone number! this will be far more convenient.

    November 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

  41. Chuck

    Well, if it was a modern ‘Spirit’ – It would have an e-mail address, maybe even a Twitter account…

    November 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm

  42. I am not LDS, so I feel like I walked in on an intense family discussion. I have to say that was a well written blog post, and I know a lot of work went into that. Nicely done!

    November 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  43. Silenced Dissident

    Thank you for posting this! I love the Church, but I HATE the Church (TM). Corporatism, literalism and conformity are KILLING MORMONISM!

    I have a testimony of Jesus, but I don’t have a testimony of Correlation. I have a testimony of the Restoration, but I don’t have a testimony of the Church Handbook of Instructions. I love the Temple, but I hate the COB.

    Bring back spontaneous, thoughtful, compassionate, community oriented Mormonism! I want to practice the Mormonism that my grandparents had!

    November 12, 2010 at 12:48 am

  44. Silenced Dissident

    This entire site is summarized in 60 Seconds:

    November 12, 2010 at 12:56 am

  45. Josh

    Your arguments would be better made without the clear disdain for the church and its leaders. What you are missing is the recognition that church leaders are just like you and me – imperfect people trying to do their best in the best way they know how –

    Don’t you think it would be smart to actually write down what we’ve learned over the last 180 years so we don’t have to relearn them? Most of the handbook helps lay leaders be leaders, stay organized and keep the best running religion running smoothly all over the world. Without a handbook – or clear policies, we would have 36,000 different churches that would change direction every 5 years. Being imperfect, some bishops would do away with primary and many would shorten the meetings to 1 hour – it isn’t apostasy or lack of the spirit, just human nature.

    The Church is an amazing vehicle to spread the Gospel. The leaders are lay volunteers who have jobs and families and are bombarded daily with all sorts of questions from all walks of life. These questions have already been asked and answered, tested and retested. The answers to these issues are in the handbook of a ‘living’ church.

    We are all required to think for ourselves and live according to the dictates of our own conscience. I have read the handbook and have given it a lot of thought. I’ve also followed the handbook and have seen how it works. Because of my knowledge, experience and feelings, I’ve made the cereberal and spritual decision to follow the instructions in the handbook because I know He is the Author and He knows the way to operate, limit and direct the church.

    November 12, 2010 at 3:36 am

  46. CP

    I have a testimony of the church as currently constituted. Why prefer dead prophets over living? What makes you think for some remote reason that all your logic is inspired of God.

    November 12, 2010 at 8:23 am

  47. Pingback: Mormon incrementalism « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  48. joeblow

    So when the CHI contradicts the Word of God in scripture which is right?

    Living prophets may be more important than dead prophets, but I have two questions regarding that. First, are living prophets more important that the word of the Lord given in revelation? Second, WHERE ARE THE LIVING PROPHETS TODAY? I have not heard a single revelation, prophecy, or vision from the men the church calls prophets today(I do admit I haven’t looked everywhere yet). No matter how many times we tell ourselves these people are prophets, if they do not bring forth the fruit of those gifts, then they are not prophets.

    The Lord said weither the His voice or the voice of the servants it is the same. So if someone claiming(or claimed by others) to be a servant of God speaks differently than what the Lord has said, obviously they really aren’t His servants.

    Joseph Smith taught that a true revelation from God will never contradict a previous one. The scriptures teach us that if someone claims to be a prophet, even if they do miracles, but they teach contrary to God’s word, we are not to listen to them.

    The chruch today reminds me of some movies. The captain(or other hero) knows he will come under the influence of some outside force. So he tell the crew that no matter what he says or how many times he begs to do something(that will lead them to certain doom) they are not to listen to him. Then when he comes under the influence of that force he telles them to do this or that. He begs and pleads for them to do something or to not listen to his previous instructions. If the crew don’t listen to him they read safety, but if they do what the Captain says while influenced they die.

    It’s the same today, the scriptures, Joseph Smith, and other early leaders warned us repeatedly that true revelations will not contradict earlier revelations. They warn us not to listen to those who teach contrary to God’s word. They teach us our leaders can and will lead us astray.

    Yet today we hear, oh don’t listen to what they said before. We are taught that we are to follow what is taught today(which, by the way, contradicts scriptures and revelations). We are taught that our leaders can never lead us astray.

    Joseph Smith taught that a true revelation will never contradict a previous one. But yet today we have people saying some contradictory teaching trumps the earlier revelations. It seems fairly obvious, to me at least, which one is right.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:58 am

  49. Chuck

    @Silenced Dissident &

    Reading your thoughts, makes me think that you are splitting the discussion into two:
    – Religiously pure aspect – where truth remains truth forever & God was right the first time
    – Practical aspect – we are not perfect, grandparents understood compassion, we need to record our best-practices etc

    I personally think this is a great argument, but what I don’t understand is how the church is able to imply that the president is inspired, local leadership are inspired, programs are inspired by God – all of this, at the same time as everyone seemingly recognizing the fallible practical side. Either the early leaders were right, and should still be right, but increasingly this does not appear to be the case.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    November 12, 2010 at 10:59 am

  50. If we look around us, guidebooks are healthy ways of bringing forth consistency out of chaos. Having handbooks does not mean people don’t think anymore; the handbooks are “more what you would call guidelines” (“Pirates of the Caribbean”). Imagine how chaotic our spelling alone would have been if Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster had not published their “handbooks.” Yet we do not hold ourselves as courageous martyrs and criticize them for oppressing us with their handbooks. We use handbooks as guidelines to inform our thinking.


    November 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

  51. Targeter

    Umm… the links aren’t working for me. When I click on them I get a 404, and when I try to download them, after they finish downloading, when I try to open them, they tell me the file has been permanently damaged. How do I get around this?

    November 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

  52. If these downloads don’t work – and for most people they have – go here and here, where someone else has uploaded them to dropbox.

    November 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

  53. P.S. I just got this message from wordpress – in a bright yellow highlighted box at the top of my screen:

    “Warning: We have a concern about some of the content on your blog. Please click here to contact us as soon as possible to resolve the issue and re-enable posting.”

    This might be end up being a shorter duration than originally planned. Keep on keepin’ on everyone.

    And, thanks for the comments. Though I don’t agree with all of them, I appreciate everyone’s viewpoint on the matter.

    November 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  54. Problem resolved.

    Here is the rest of the conversation with WordPress:

    We received a valid DMCA Notice for:

    Click to access 2010-church-handbook-of-instructions-book-1a.pdf

    Click to access 2010-church-handbook-of-instructions-book-2a.pdf

    As such, we were legally required to remove the file from our servers.

    If you wish to challenge this notice we will be happy to provide you with the details you need.

    Note that the blog has been returned to normal and may be used again; no further action or response is required on your part.”

    Me: What is a “DMCA Notice”?


    “DMCA = Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which pertains to copyright infringement.”


    The removal and disabling of the links all occurred prior to anyone contacting me. In fact, there was no discussion at all. Just a removal of the files, and that was that.

    Looks like the Powers-that-Be have way more power than I do. 😉

    Thanks to everyone who came over here for the discussion (which isn’t done by any stretch). And, though the LDS Church announced today that Book 2 will be available for everyone to read online, and that the training session will now be available online following said session (which are two important advancements), Book 1 will continue to be reserved for those in the “need to know” leadership positions.

    The handbook includes two volumes, one of which will be provided to hundreds of thousands of men and women who shoulder significant responsibilities in administering local Church programs and congregations. It contains the vast majority of revisions and will be posted online Saturday at lds.org, the Church’s website for members, where anyone can view it. Complete video of the worldwide leadership training broadcast will also be posted online late Saturday evening, Mountain Time.

    The other volume of the handbook, which contains relatively few changes, will be used primarily by bishops and stake presidents (leaders who oversee the work of several bishops). It will also be placed on the Church’s website with other resources specifically used only by these leaders.

    Though I appreciate these changes, I still maintain that both books should be available for all to see, read and ponder. I think my thoughts and reasons on this matter are adequately represented in the original blog entry.

    “Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.” – Martin Luther.

    November 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm

  55. Josh

    @ Chuck re: purity of Gospel vs. practical aspects and changes of the church over time…

    I’ve resolved the two views for myself by accepting that I’m not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of 1832 – times were different then – people & society were very different then. A starker example is the hisotry of Moses and the micro-managing laws pertaining to the recently freed Israelites – from 30,000 feet, what kind of society was that? They had been essentially welfare recipients/(& working slaves at the same time) for 400 years – devoid of spirit, self thought and drive. Any entrepreneurs or leaders in that group? I think they had to be given very specific laws to guide them day by day because that is how their society had been run for 100’s of years. Then, God had them wander in the wilderness for 40 years to help turn them to God and away from Pharoh. That society needed a much different Gospel for its progession than we need today, but Moses is still a true prophet.

    Following this reasoning, I would argue that the practices and some teachings of the 1800’s were specific to that time because the people were different.

    So, I belong to the Church of 2010 – not 1978, not 1847. I’m glad the handbook changes from time to time and I’m REALLY glad when they update the lesson manuals to remove references to “audio cassetts.” The Church is living and casting off old doctrines, which is great because it means our society/world/families are evolving into a people that will be prepared to welcome in the second coming. (I’m not arguing for progressivism, a whole other box of pandoras (jk))

    November 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm

  56. Josh

    @ Nobody

    There is no conspiracy. The new handbooks will be given to the right people for the right reasons (read on for explanation). My Stake President – a staunch conservative- said that the handbooks are not secret – open them up with people and read them together. But the Church doesn’t post them online simply because the Church has a lot of enemies that would use them out of context, use them as visual aids in anti-mormon rallies, and most importantly, use the contents to define our doctrine for us. It is much better to keep our copyrighted material in use for its designated purpose and answer our critics on our own terms. It is like having a diary containing your deepest, most personal experiences. You are happy to share those experiences because you have nothing to hide, but you just want to communicate them to others on your own terms in the proper context.

    (also, if you don’t act to enforce your copyright, it can be waived as to all groups, so they can’t selectively ignore the unlawful copyright violations. Yes, Mr. Nobody, whoever posted the handbooks were violating the law – and the ends don’t usually justify the means.)

    November 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm

  57. James Steven Graham

    Our society/world/families are evolving by changing doctrines? I wouldn’t mind changed doctrine if it came along with a revelation. Otherwise, it’s just the thinking of yet another mortal.

    The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians for a number of years, until their cries came up to the Lord and He sent a deliverer. Did they know their true identity? Did they realize that they were slaves and shouldn’t be? A handful did realize their true potential and ascended the mountain with Moses. The rest wandered in the wilderness until they died, and their descendants entered the promised land.

    I wonder if we realize that we are slaves to the modern Egypt and Babylon. We fought a war with the U.S. over our religion and lost. Do we realize that? Did we ever get to enter our promised land? Did we have people ascend the mountain with Joseph to speak with the Lord face to face? Will He send yet another deliverer for us?

    Why do we think that we are evolving as evidenced by 400+ pages of rules when our forefathers entertained the Father, Son and holy angels? Doesn’t sound like progress to me.


    November 12, 2010 at 3:48 pm

  58. Now I’m not advocating breaking the copyright laws, but if someone really wanted to get Book 1 out to everyone that wanted to see it, just create a forum whereby anyone who wanted it could put up their email address (it could be an anonymous email address) and anyone that had the file could email it to these people who wanted it (also using an anonymous email addess.)

    Now, again, I’m not advocating breaking copyright laws, but as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I feel I have ownership of everything that comes out of it. It belongs to me and every other member, regardless of the corporation that has been created to oversee the intellectual property. So, I believe the members have a right to freely copy and disburse church material as they see fit, regardless of the copyright and corporation laws. The members of the church have preeminence over the corporation of the Church. The corporation is to serve and receive instructions from the members, not the members serving and receiving instructions from the corporation. So, I say let the members decide what stays hidden and what is revealed.

    And in case you still don’t get what I’m saying, I mean that I see no sin in freely copying and disbursing this file to every member that wants to have it. In fact, it may be wise for members to break every copyright owned by the corporation of the Church by freely giving everything away in this manner.

    November 12, 2010 at 3:59 pm

  59. Pingback: Follow-Up « Martin Luther – LDS

  60. Should anyone leave his or her anonymous e-mail address as a follow-up comment to this one — I would definitely not send the copy of the 2010 Claim on Human Infallibility (CHI) to the address supplied, since I also do not wish to violate any copyright laws.

    November 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

  61. Richard Stallman Jr.

    Fascinating. Information wants to be free, as they say.

    November 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

  62. joeblow

    Well if you’re happy to belong to the Church of 2010 that’s fine. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In my church God’s Word is eternal. It isn’t changed to corespond to every cultural change in Babylon.

    While it’s ok to change “audio casettes” to CDs or mp3s. God wont give his law of tithing as written in section 119. And then change it without revelation to mean just 10% of any income. God wont say the Word of Wisdom is not given by command or constraint; then at some undefined point without revelation change it to a commandment.

    The Law of Moses was given first to those people. God didn’t reveal the Law of the Gospel to then and then a few years later change His mind and institue the Law of Moses. Yes, He did reveal it to moses. But moses smashed those tablets before it was given to the public. The Israelites wandering in teh wilderness is NOTHING compared to our 180+ years of wandering in the wilderness. They were amazingly righteous compared to us.

    Also the Law of Moses was given with the intent of it being fulfilled in Christ. It wasn’t given as an eternal law and then suddenly God changed His mind.

    You are right there are some instruction that was specific to the 1800s. But things like Tithing and Plural Marriage, which are eternal practices, are not specific to the 1800s. They are specific to God’s people an any day and age.

    I also don’t think there is necessarily a conspiracy to keep the Claim on Human Infallibility (CHI) from the people. But there is a remarkable parallel between the LDS Church and the Catholic Church. For centuries the Bible was only available in Latin. the common people who didn’t read latin had to rely on the leaders of the Catholic church to teach them the instructions in the Bible. It wasn’t until Martin Luther translated the Bible into german that it was available to the public.

    Today the LDS church keeps the CHI out of the hands of a large portion of members. We are judged by rules that we aren’t allowed to know. It is sites like this that bring these things to the people.

    You claim enemies of the church would use the CHI out of context, in anti-mormon rallies, and to define our doctrine. First our scriptures are much more sacred than the CHI yet they are available to everyone. Secind there shouldn’t be any question as to what our doctrine is. Our doctrine is(or hould be) this: Have faith in Christ; repent; be baptized with water; be baptized with fire and the spirit. That’s it. Christ said if anything more or less than this is taught and established as His doctrine then it comes from evil.

    If you want to belong to the Church of 2010, and next year the Church of 2011, that’s fine. To each his own. But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that I support is founded upon Christ and established in eternal principles. It does not change with the whims of men.

    November 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  63. Senile Old Fart

    Devan, et al. –

    I agree with you. Guidebooks are useful. We owe a lot to Messrs Johnson & Webster and their intellectual kin. I have several of their works where I can easily access them.

    Since the dictionaries available to me, I can readily use conventional spellings. Were they not available, and my supervisors complained about my poor spelling, I would complain mightily – and justifiably.

    From my reading of Book 1, it is apparent, from the consequences, that having a transsexual operation is a sin next to murder. Without access to the handbook, how would I know such a thing?

    Just sayin’…

    November 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm

  64. joeblow

    But IS having a transsexual operation a sin next to murder? Without a revelation how do we know?

    November 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm

  65. Chris

    Very nice false diatomic. Unequal equivalent comparison… fail.

    I had no idea these books existed or governed such actions for “consistency”. They are not readily made known unless you look outside the leadership for answers. These dictionaries you try to make comparisons to are available to everyone and not hidden behind one time broadcast and secrecy.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm

  66. Chris

    dichotomy… dang spell check putting the wrong word in

    November 12, 2010 at 10:23 pm

  67. Dansla Poubelle

    This is great.

    November 13, 2010 at 1:02 am

  68. Lot's wife

    Fascinating, absolutely. And intriguing, that the Brethren still won’t give free access to both books.

    November 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm

  69. linuxguy

    The files are available on kickasstorrents.com. Just do a search.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  70. Lot's wife

    A search kickasstorrents keeps resulting in a fail message: “502 Bad Gateway

    November 13, 2010 at 7:09 pm

  71. badmon

    I find your comment very interesting. I realize that I will not be able to read the CHI because of copyright issues, but I wish that I could.

    November 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm

  72. Eric

    Please don’t send me a copy

    November 14, 2010 at 12:04 am

  73. Phillip King

    You idea that as a member of the church, you feel it incumbent to spread the gospel of the church through the sharing of its sacred and intellectual literature is intriguing and convincing. I wish you good fortune in your endeavours. I obtained a copy of an earlier CHI through a bookstore that was later sued and stopped distributing them; and a copy of another year’s CHI from the internet. I have found that they are rather lame. Not especially spiritually; not at all “intellectual”!; and certainly nothing to be bothered about were “outsiders” to somehow get a hold of a copy and spend their otherwise boring days reading its exciting pages.

    God bless you in spreading the Truth.

    November 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

  74. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing. And for the person(s) who “know for a fact” that the BOM is true…he/she must not have studied the church’s history. Shame. It’s fascinating.

    November 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  75. Anonymous

    There is some information on DCMA takedown notices in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Blogger’s Legal Guide:


    You’ll need to scroll down the page for the DCMA section. See also their Guide to Youtube Removals, although some of it applies only to Youtube:


    You have an option to send WordPress a counter-notice to get them to put the links back up. The EFF guide explains the process. However, they recommend consulting an attorney before sending one.

    EFF takes a strong pro-free speech position, and they argue and provide evidence that DCMA takedowns are frequently used for the illegitimate suppression of criticism and dissent. In this instance, there may be a legitimate copyright issue, and the notice is not mere harassment. On the other hand, a copyright owner’s rights are not absolute, and you do not have to accept Intellectual Reserve’s opinion as if it were a court of law.

    It is quite likely that your best option is to leave things as they are, but your correspondence with WordPress, or at least the part you quoted, seems short on detail and therefore rather one sided in its effect.

    A final note: DCMA is US law. Other nations have their own laws, and the situation would be different with a non-US hosting service.

    November 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm

  76. Thanks for these notes. I’m not sure that I’ll do anything more than what I’ve already done.

    While calling attention to the issue was/is my main goal, I utterly disagree with the whole copyright infringement claim and the church’s stance on the issue. I do hope the whole veil of secrecy will be removed because there’s absolutely no need for it (IMO). If the members are going to be the recipients of most of those policy decisions made by leaders, and asked to implement whatever rules they are asked to put in place, and will be judged according to these same guidelines, it doesn’t seem to logically make any sense whatsoever (from my point of view).

    Perhaps PureMormonism’s recent entry is correct in the conclusion he draws based on the original post:

    Then again, consider this: Just because you are LDS, you may think you have ownership of everything that comes out of the church. But keep in mind you don’t belong to that church. That is the Corporate ChurchTM. It has a very exclusive membership, and they don’t care what you think. The members of that Church will do whatever the hell they want.

    Book 2 can be found here at LDS.org. For all the oddities contained in these manuals, I was told of one that I think I like:

    Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress and appearance. (Book 2, 20.4.1)

    Quite appropriate. Though, I’m still of the mindset that it’s rather sad to even see the need to spell these things out.

    November 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

  77. If you really want to know the truth, try this experiment. Walk up to your Bishop next Sunday and ask him to see a section in the handbook that has some particular application to your life, or ask him to photocopy the relevant page for you. Don’t ask for a copy of the entire handbook, or section of the handbook, because you know that’s a silly request…. Then be honest and blog about what actually happened….

    I doubt any of you conspiracy theorists will actually do it because you know in your heart that no one is trying to hide anything from you, and it will give you one less reason to be bitter and you might actually have to develop a real hobby.

    November 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm

  78. Except for the fact that we were specifically told in yesterday’s meeting the following:

    “Please remember that these handbooks – and these policies – are not to be copied or shared beyond those authorized to have them.” – Dallin H. Oaks

    See, and you thought you’d have to wait until next Sunday for an update on the results of that experiment. Maybe that, in and of itself, is the very conspiracy theory you speak of – now you really do have some time to develop some hobbies.

    Now, on to my own hobby time.

    November 14, 2010 at 11:23 pm

  79. Found this rather interesting discussion on the CHI and it’s parallels to the ancient Oral law the Pharisees were so fond of. You can read the particular comment here, with a brief discussion that ensues.

    “The CHI derives its power in the same way that the POL [Pharisaical Oral Law] did. People had to go to the Pharisees to get it spoken to them. They could not obtain a written copy and put it side-by-side with the scriptures to compare. It was extra-scriptural. The members had no say as to what the POL contained. They couldn’t vote to accept or reject it. Their leaders alone controlled its contents. It was, essentially, secret knowledge, dished out as seen fit. Yet, despite all the secrecy, people were judged by the POL instead of just the law of Moses. In the same manner, the CHI is our modern-day equivalent of the POL.”

    Might be worth heading over there.

    November 15, 2010 at 12:14 am

  80. rockwaterman1

    Britt K: Maybe if YOU had been homeschooled you would know that Moses wasn’t the one who built the ark.

    November 15, 2010 at 3:46 am

  81. rockwaterman1

    Anarchist: “Anonymity is useful. All my life when I expressed my views people would reject them because they knew the messenger.”

    Amen to that, Anarchist! As you know, I go by my own name at my blog, Pure Mormonism. In spite of the countless positive emails and comments from strangers regarding how things I’ve written have given them hope in coping with and understanding the modern Church, almost no one in the ward I spent 15 years in feels I have anything to offer.

    Although I moved from that ward 7 years ago, most who knew me from those days do not even bother to read my stuff, are dismissive of it, or assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. They “know” me, you see.

    November 15, 2010 at 4:16 am

  82. Reason

    Thank you for this blog, I found it today from feministmormonhousewives.org and saw that the links were down so I used google to find the two parts on a bittorrent site. Martin Luther would be proud.

    November 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  83. PaulM

    i sure don’t want a copy. it would be like a dog chasing cars… i wouldn’t know what to do with it if i got a copy

    November 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm

  84. Anonymous

    On the copyright issue, from an ethical rather than legal point of view, any work produced by the US (federal) government is ineligible for copyright within the United States (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#105). Presumably the rationale is that because the government belongs to and is funded by the people and its works should be (and are) in the public domain. I think this parallels the argument you have made in regard to the CHI.

    The church’s position through Intellectual Reserve seems rather like some efforts by state governments to use copyright to restrict distribution of their legal codes (http://james.grimmelmann.net/essays/CopyrightTechnologyAccess). One point of contrast is the absence, as far as I can tell, of certain arguments made here defending CHI secrecy. It does not seem to have occurred to anyone to say anything like “Oregonians do not want greater access to their state law,” or “Better indexing of the law could be used against Oregon.”

    November 16, 2010 at 12:50 am

  85. rockwaterman1

    Good point, anonymous, no one here or on my site has put forth any kind of argument as to why the CHI should be secret. Sure, some above have chided Bishop Luther for his opinion, but all that amounts to is kneejerk defenses of the corporate church. No one has put forth a real reason, as far as I can see. Thanks for the link, and the pat legal theory.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

  86. Malcolm Vickery

    You said 7 days… The files are not there anymore… Any chance of an e:mail with the pdf’s? Thanks!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

  87. I said 7 days, but the Church™ did not agree with that. Read the comments for more details on what happened.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

  88. rockwaterman1

    Also, Malcom, in the comments you’ll find references to where the files can be found. At least one of them no longer seems valid, but look for the guy who promises you NOT to send them to you if you send him an email.

    BTW, You didn’t get this from me. You are referring to the latest Justin Beiber files available on the net, are you not? Those are the only files I know anything about.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

  89. Only your paranoia places you in the group “not authorized to have them”.

    The instructions and policies in Handbook 2 are available to the very exclusive group called “anyone who wants to view them”. At least admit that you are still steaming following that announcement.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm

  90. James Steven Graham

    Why would handbook 1 also not be available to “anyone who wants to view them”?

    November 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm

  91. James, you should ask Charles.
    Unlike the rest of us, he appears free of paranoia.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

  92. I am defending, not posturing; that’s the blogger’s job.

    Previous bogyphobes have been silenced by the publication of Handbook 2, and they are currently scrambling for a new theory and leader…

    November 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  93. anonymous

    So, the question remains as to why the Church will not release Handbook 1.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  94. Charles:

    You’re not only incorrect regarding my motives, but you’re ascribing emotions to me that you know absolutely nothing about. Perhaps we can stay on task here and you could answer the very issues you yourself are raising.

    First and foremost, you called for an “experiment” which was refuted by a statement you haven’t even acknowledged. You might want to try revisiting that.
    Second, you accuse others of “paranoia” while at the same time tossing out a litany of accusations as if they’re candy on the 4th of July. I’m going to have cavities by the end of the night if this keeps up.
    Third, perhaps you should refer back to my comments specifically (and any others, generally) where I noted that I’m wholly on board with the release of Handbook 2 to anyone who wants to view them (as well as the actual training presentation), should they desire to read or watch them. I’m of the mind that most simply won’t read the handbooks anyway, but they should at least be available. Same goes for book 1. To suggest I’m still “steaming” is to assume I harbor emotions and motives which, again, you know nothing about. And, just for your sake, I’ll save you the trouble of making any more ass-u-mptions by pointing out that there’s no “steaming” nor any other emotions involved from my end. Thank you, though, for presuming to know how I feel through all this digital ink. That truly is impressive.

    Perhaps you can go back to actually trying to proffer a reason as to why handbook 1 remains unseen to the general membership other than resorting to straw man arguments or name calling. I, for one, would appreciate it. Maybe you can start by going here and offering up a better (or alternative, for that matter) explanation besides one that suggests that I’m paranoid or steaming or angry or hobbyless. Surely, in all you’re undergraduate education you learned how to carry on an actual argument without belittling anyone (and everyone) who disagrees with your points of view.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

  95. joeblow

    It doesn’t matter the motivations for keep Book 1 “secret.” What matters is that the CHI institutes policies and procedures which are contrary to the revelations of God.

    As such these policies must be done away with.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm

  96. rockwaterman1

    I think you just pegged it, Joeblow. Wish I’d said it like that.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm

  97. Amen, Joeblow…AMEN!

    November 16, 2010 at 6:43 pm

  98. rockwaterman1

    Thanks for including that link to Hugh Nibley’s Day of the Amateur. Very nice little essay.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm

  99. You are right about one thing — I should not judge or call names. I sincerely apologize. I suppose that I have always secretly wanted to appear on the Maury Povich show with one hand on my hip and the other waving in my adversary’s face. I thought we were both engaged in the same degrading entertainment. I didn’t know I was hurting anyone’s feelings. Did you really think you could write such an emotional blog and expect people to not assume that you were angry? Don’t answer that because I have spent too much time here and probably won’t return. As penitence, I sincerely wish I could “proffer a reason as to why handbook 1 remains unseen”, but I cannot.

    Before last Thursday, this question had never crossed my mind. I don’t have an opinion because, although there are many things that concern me, I have never considered that this should be one of them.

    I wish Handbook 1 was published like Handbook 2, and I can’t see any harm in it; however, I don’t presume that there can’t be a good reason to not publish it just because I can’t think of it. I certainly wouldn’t extend to the point of harsh criticism of the general Bishopric and membership just because my curiosity wasn’t satisfied.

    As a departing note, let me say that I actually love the Handbooks (yep, I said “love”). They have provided sanity to me as I have sat in and listened to some of the well-intended creative ideas and traditions suggested. I have some great stories…

    The Handbooks do not scare me, but operating consistently and, more importantly, fairly without them does. In an ideal world, revelation would rule all aspects of the Church, but when I personally struggle to function at 30% spiritual throughput, I don’t expect others to run at 100%.

    * Give all imperfect lay leadership training wheels; give them the Handbooks.

    * Give all membership both Handbooks -OR- give them Handbook 2 and ask them to sit in counsel with those with Handbook 1.

    Good life ladies and gentlemen. Proceed with caution.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm

  100. Senile Old Fart

    For the benefit of amateur Kremlinologists, are previous editions of the CHI available to compare with the present version?

    November 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

  101. anonymously55

    I don’t understand why Handbook 1 is not available to all members. Perhaps it would guide members in their conduct and ramifications thereof. Would love to have a copy of Handbook 1.

    November 26, 2010 at 11:18 am

  102. Justin


    The Church is not interested in allowing access to the oral law — that would defeat the purpose.

    November 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm

  103. Stacey

    If the church expects members to be governed and affected by their policies, the policies in the handbooks (both of them!) should be readily available to all. Since when are we living under 1930s fascism? Freedom of information people. Knowledge is power. Know your church handbook.

    January 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

  104. Pingback: Silent Revelations | Zo-ma-rah

  105. .

    here is a working download of handbook 1:


    February 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm

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