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David Bokovoy

The Sermon on the Mount and the LofC

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Hi, Droopy.

I rarely do this, as I hope not to give offense, but I'd like to share my perspective as a spectator. I enjoy threads where people are passionate about their beliefs because I love hearing what others have to say. But I confess that I often find your delivery a little overbearing. Rhetoric like this

Why was the great Dr. Nibley's hands over his ears when this was spoken? Why does David turn away, hands clapped tightly over ears and eyes wide shut? What aspect of this is so tortuously difficult to understand?

. . . does little to further the conversation in good faith.

I'm sorry if you see this as indicative of "bad faith", as it certainly is not intended to be, on my part. Every once in awhile, I do believe "passion" is necessary to drive home intellectual and philosophical arguments that, on their own, while they may be interesting and even compelling, can become arid, in certain cases, when a direct challenge and confrontation is necessary to throw cold water on someone who's head is in the clouds.

Dr. Nibley's statements on economics and political economy were mostly of a narrow, dyspeptic, class resentment sort that serious students of free market economics can laugh off as the sanctimonious snortings of an ivory tower elitist who looks down from that tower with lofty disdain on the people of practical affairs - entrepreneurs, businesspeople, bankers; those who buy and those who sell - and pronounces on the "greed" and "selfishness" of all those outside the hallowed temple of academia.

Other of his statements, such as the one I've linked to in this thread regarding the Soviet Union, in which he our country's military preparations against it were interpreted as hostility to a country of "sharing" are so recklessly intemperate, irresponsible, and frankly intellectually vacuous, that a "passionate" response is sometimes required to grab those kinds of assertions by both lapels and shake them violently.

In point of fact, David has wedded himself to a "gospel hobby" here that is highly resistant to both rational argument and even to clear scriptural reference. The uncompromising passion for equality is, as Ive said, a "consuming fire", and one that douses other deeply needful principles of human relations, such as free agency, individual self determination and choice, and the economic principles that are the only means of actually alleviating poverty to the degree David seeks.

David wants the right hand to always know what the left is doing in economic affairs. The important thing for David is not that poverty gets attended to, but that it is controlled so that all economic conditions in Zion are uniform between its members.

I am passionately, as well as philosophically, in utter opposition to this system of belief, and the gospel, and the scriptures, do not support Brother Bokovoy in his personal quest to impose a concept of egalitarian economic uniformity upon the concept of Zion.

Simply make your case without characterizing the other participants in this way.

I do, for the most part, but in many cases its of little avail when personal agendas are already set in concrete.

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I found this to be funny and slightly applicable here:

This makes my inner libertarian smile.

Speaking of the Pilgrims, see Robert C. Ellickson, "Property in Land," Yale Law Journal 102:6 (April 1993). The conditions of Jamestown, Plymouth, and Salt Lake City are compared. See Nate Oman's comments on it here.

Also, see economist Thomas J. DiLorenzo's account of the Pilgrims in his How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present (Three Rivers Press, 2004).

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Lastly, I'd love to see you engage the OP more. Do the Beatitudes and Isaiah 61 have any reference to poverty and social justice? You made a great start not so long ago:

Yes and no.

There is no doubt that the setting free of the "captives" David mentions in this context has partial reference to "the poor" as to material concerns. However, what we must remember that what we are dealing with here are, indeed, the scriptures, which are far more than ancient religious texts that have been influenced and conditioned by prevailing Near Eastern cultural norms and concerns. That they have been so influenced I would never argue. That those influences can be used as definitive interpretational templates to impose an idiosyncratic revisionist interpretation upon them is the question.

From an LDS perspective, the "setting free of the captives" has, as many of the Beatitudes (which also contain Temple symbolism and reference), multiple layers of meaning. References to "the poor" in the Beatitudes, for example, most certainly pertain, to some degree, to ultimate deliverance from the sufferings that can attend poverty. It also has clear relation, as I sincerely doubt any General Authority would disagree, to being "set free" from sin, the Fall, mortal weakness "of the flesh", addiction, ignorance, and indeed, from the entire range of the effects of the Fall and the power of Satan to tempt and influence.

I think that David's preoccupation with both "the poor" as a definable class, and his highly pressurized focus on material poverty as the primary, if not sole focus of these scriptural references is doing a bit of scripture wresting.

Beyond this, although David admits that the UO is not "communal" in nature, he continues his attempt to impose on the concept what he has called "financial equality" which he has associated with the elimination of "unequal possession" of material things.

A number of posters, hardly limited to myself, have understood this to mean that he is proposing the UO to be a socialistic/communistic type of egalitarian social order.

He has alleged a subtle distinction between "having" private property and "owning" it that neither the scriptures nor the Brethren have made, and clearly stated that the UO requires the "abandonment of private ownership" (the abolition of private property, as Marxists would phrase it).

A number of others here have recognized that none of this is actually to be found in the scriptures, and no body of General Authority teaching exists to support it.

I rest my case pretty much on the above generalities.

Secondly, the term "social justice" is going to cause no end of trouble. This is "politically correct" language use in that the term itself, "social justice" is really only a code term for "socialism".

This is easy to determine for oneself in that, for justice to be "social" it must be understood as group justice; it is justice that does not apply to individuals as they go before the law to account for their conduct in relation to it, but as members of a class, or collectivity.

Such a concept of collective responsibility, collective accountability, collective guilt for sins omitted and collective redemption from a condition (poverty) that is understood to be a collective experience, is quite obviously utterly external to both the gospel and to the inspired concepts contained in the Constitution and other documents of the Founding.

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I do, for the most part, but in many cases its of little avail when personal agendas are already set in concrete.

For my part anyway, that is a complete mischaracterization. I've long since abandoned trying to dogmatically defend what I believe is truth in favor of opening my heart and letting God lead me to what is actually truth. It has required me to abandon some long held assumptions and lower some cultural walls. Thankfully, it's also enabled me to see that, at least in terms of the present discussion, there is a place of beautiful reconciliation between the seemingly opposing principles of individual choice and accountability and communal salvation.

It exists when the individual loves others as he loves himself.

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In point of fact, David has wedded himself to a "gospel hobby" here that is highly resistant to both rational argument and even to clear scriptural reference.

Again, I would ask that you please provide a scriptural reference that refutes the arguments I've presented in this thread. If I remember correctly, I believe I've asked you to do so before on at least one occasion in this thread. It's one thing to claim that my arguments prove resistant to clear scriptural analysis, it's quite another to actually show that such is the case.

Good luck!

Beyond this, although David admits that the UO is not "communal" in nature, he continues his attempt to impose on the concept what he has called "financial equality" which he has associated with the elimination of "unequal possession" of material things.

I suspect that if you would actually put down your Adam Smith and read what the Doctrine and Covenants has to say concerning the Lord's economic plans for Zion, you wouldn't view my comments on "financial equality" a personal "imposition":

"Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld" (D&C 70:14)

"For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion... That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things" (D&C 78: 3-6).

Now, why don't you explain why you believe that these verses do not present the view that Zion will be a place of financial equality?

Again, Good luck!

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Now, why don't you explain why you believe that these verses do not present the view that Zion will be a place of financial equality?

In my personal view it will and it will not be a place of financial equity, in that there will be no finances. {fingers crossed} I can think of nothing better than a society of people working together to provide spiritually and temporally for each other without money and without price.

I see Droopy as emphasizing a very important warning from prophets about Satan's counterfeit versions of Zion in which individual salvation and justice are thrown out and which are used to oppress others in the name of equality.

I see David as emphasizing the truth that we need to care for the poor and that Zion will be a place of sharing so that everyone has enough. (Whether or not it is exactly equal doesn't matter to me as I know I would share or give whatever I was asked)

I see myself in a game of mental "Operation" being careful not to go to far to one side or the other or I will get buzzed. Both are right, but both could be so awfully wrong based on what Satan has built up to resemble what God has. Brings new meaning to "straight and narrow".

Silly joking (but interesting) question: I am 6' 7" 270 lbs. does that mean, in a temporally equal society, since I am 1.2 times larger than the average man, and God made me that way, do I get 20% more stuff? Or, since I have more temporally than others, will God shrink me down so I do not have more than my allotted temporal flesh ration?

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Hi, Droopy.

I don't think it's an issue of bad faith but rather passion, as you point out. After all, this is the primary subject you post about on both boards. I simply think that your argument would be more effective if you avoided references about your interlocutors' understanding (or lack thereof). But I shouldn't be looking for motes. Forgive me.

There is no doubt that the setting free of the "captives" David mentions in this context has partial reference to "the poor" as to material concerns. However, what we must remember that what we are dealing with here are, indeed, the scriptures, which are far more than ancient religious texts that have been influenced and conditioned by prevailing Near Eastern cultural norms and concerns. That they have been so influenced I would never argue. That those influences can be used as definitive interpretational templates to impose an idiosyncratic revisionist interpretation upon them is the question.

From an LDS perspective, the "setting free of the captives" has, as many of the Beatitudes (which also contain Temple symbolism and reference), multiple layers of meaning. References to "the poor" in the Beatitudes, for example, most certainly pertain, to some degree, to ultimate deliverance from the sufferings that can attend poverty. It also has clear relation, as I sincerely doubt any General Authority would disagree, to being "set free" from sin, the Fall, mortal weakness "of the flesh", addiction, ignorance, and indeed, from the entire range of the effects of the Fall and the power of Satan to tempt and influence.

This is a fairly balanced view. I like to think of scripture in the sense of harmonic overtones. There are primary notes that reverberate along a given wavelength, but as you play them, they create related pitches at higher frequencies that are different but integrated and harmonious. Many verses of scripture resonate at multiple levels, and we see related applications along both temporal and spiritual wavelengths. But there still is a primary note or context for a given verse. For example, Alma talks to the poor as he compares faith to a seed:

And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people; for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel-- (Alm 32:2)

Note that he also calls them "poor of heart" while observing their poverty in relation to the things of the world in verse four. So is the primary context of "poor" in verse two a temporal sense or a spiritual sense?

So when we get to the Beatitudes, how do we gauge the primary context of Matthew's "poor" (??????)? Is the primary context spiritual or temporal? Or is it exactly equal at the same time? Granted that in an LDS application we would see both of these applications (and more), but I'm curious as to your read on the primary context. You recognize the ANE temporal context, but do you think it is the primary one?

In any case, have a great Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving, my Brother. He won't remember me, but say hello to your Dad for me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too. I've been busy cooking key lime and pumpkin pies for tomorrow because my Dad specifically asked for a key lime pie. My parents are off soon to Saudi Arabia on an initiative for the King Faisal Foundation--something that Dan helped arrange a while back. So he never stops.

Cheers.

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I've long since abandoned trying to dogmatically defend what I believe is truth in favor of opening my heart and letting God lead me to what is actually truth.

I've been traveling this road myself. I remember many years ago feeling a prompting to take the other car as I left for work. I ignored it and took the usual one. The further I got from home, the stronger the prompting got, and so I turned around and switched. All the way to work and back I started coming up with reasons for this prompting: accident, flat tire, helping my wife avoid an accident or flat tire, an exercise to help me follow promptings, etc. This is just one simple example of many, but at this point in my life I want to separate what I know as revelation from my assumptions about these revelations. I know the BoM is true, but many of my thoughts about geography, translation theory, etc. are simply assumptions. However, once I admit they are assumptions, then I can study them out in my mind and allow for promptings and further insight. It certainly has meant some paradigm shifts, but it's been tremendously rewarding along the way. And it almost always means avoiding dogmatism of any kind.

Thanks again for your contributions here. Best to you and your family.

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but at this point in my life I want to separate what I know as revelation from my assumptions about these revelations. I know the BoM is true, but many of my thoughts about geography, translation theory, etc. are simply assumptions. However, once I admit they are assumptions, then I can study them out in my mind and allow for promptings and further insight. It certainly has meant some paradigm shifts, but it's been tremendously rewarding along the way. And it almost always means avoiding dogmatism of any kind.

Outstanding. Seriously :P

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"Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld" (D&C 70:14)

"For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion... That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things" (D&C 78: 3-6).

If you exist in a community of common beliefs, common goals, and common ideals, a community where you've been able to develop deep friendships with others, I find it astonishing that you would be willing to hold on to something that you could share with someone who does not have it simply because you may have the right to do so. Wouldn't you want the other to have as much as you do, wouldn't you go out of your way to see that all are blessed to the extent that you are, isn't this something you would desire with all your heart. If they weren't ready to share it, then wouldn't you be working with them to help prepare them for receiving the blessings you've been given and then being honoured that you are able to be the one through whom God has worked to give it to them?

We desire to share the gospel because of the joy it gives us, we desire to share our knowledge, to teach others because of the sense of purpose and meaning and capabilities that this knowledge has added to our lives.

I cannot understand how a true follower of Christ would be generous to a fault with the intangible things of life while holding on to the material things of life (in general, I can see some material possessions having sentimental value...but even there I've had the experience that there is often much greater joy in teaching others that 'sentiment' so they can share in it as well).

I think the simplest way of looking at things is would you withhold any material or immaterial possessions from members of your family simply because you had the right to do so (for no other reason). If not, then in a Zion society where all are viewed as the family of God (we do call each other "brother" and "sister" for a reason), why would you do anything differently?

One can claim that Christ demanded the young rich man to give up all his goods to the poor because his riches were what stood in between him and the Lord, but if any of us are not willing to do so, is it not the same for us? And if we are willing, then when the opportunity presents itself, will we not do the same (though in the way the Lord instructs us to act)?

To me this whole discussion of property rights etc. is moot if we are truly a Zion society, people will be eagerly looking for ways to help their brethren, not obsessing about legalities or property rights.

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I like to think of scripture in the sense of harmonic overtones. There are primary notes that reverberate along a given wavelength, but as you play them, they create related pitches at higher frequencies that are different but integrated and harmonious. Many verses of scripture resonate at multiple levels, and we see related applications along both temporal and spiritual wavelengths. But there still is a primary note or context for a given verse.

Beautiful analogy. I will be stealing it.

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So, here's what I want to know, Droopy. You're in Zion, and you've got your stewardship and your work ethic, and you proceed to produce an great surplus, a great profit. Now, the Bishop comes round and says "Hey Droopster, any surplus this week?", and you say "Oh, yes, a great surplus". Now, given that your family's needs are more than sufficiently cared for, and you still have a great surplus beyond that, do you have the right, in Zion, to say to the Biship, "So, Bishop, you can move along, I'll be keeping all this. See ya on Sunday!"? Certainly you can say that. You have the ability. I'm not asking about your agency. I'm asking about your rights. I want to know if it's a right you have in Zion. Do you have the right to keep any surplus you produce for any reason whatever? And by 'right' I mean, will God look down and say, "Good on ya, Droopy, what you're doing is permissible in Zion [thumbs up].".

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Forgive me if I've somehow misunderstood the thrust of your arguments on this thread, but do I perceive correctly that you are suggesting that there is currently a fundamental misunderstanding at all levels of Mormonism concerning the meaning and scripturally-mandated function of the Law of Consecration?

No. I certainly wouldn't go that far, i.e. that there exists a fundamental misunderstanding at all levels of Mormonism concerning the LofC. I do believe that there exists confusion amongst some members who have tried to fit a square peg into a round hole, i.e. Capitalism and conservative political agendas with the Gospel of Christ.

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I've been traveling this road myself. I remember many years ago feeling a prompting to take the other car as I left for work. I ignored it and took the usual one. The further I got from home, the stronger the prompting got, and so I turned around and switched. All the way to work and back I started coming up with reasons for this prompting: accident, flat tire, helping my wife avoid an accident or flat tire, an exercise to help me follow promptings, etc. This is just one simple example of many, but at this point in my life I want to separate what I know as revelation from my assumptions about these revelations. I know the BoM is true, but many of my thoughts about geography, translation theory, etc. are simply assumptions. However, once I admit they are assumptions, then I can study them out in my mind and allow for promptings and further insight. It certainly has meant some paradigm shifts, but it's been tremendously rewarding along the way. And it almost always means avoiding dogmatism of any kind.

Thanks again for your contributions here. Best to you and your family.

Mr. J, I agree with realizing that assumptions are just that, assumptions and not confirmed facts. I have seen too many people fall away from the gospel because they insisted that what they believed is the truths and are proven facts, but when push came to shove, these "facts" were shown not to be the truth, and so they threw the baby out with the bath water.

I have a large stove in my life and it has about a billion back burners and, as the old saying goes, the more I learn, the less I know or, even better, the smarter I become, the stupider I get.

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David Bokovoy-

No. I certainly wouldn't go that far, i.e. that there exists a fundamental misunderstanding at all levels of Mormonism concerning the LofC. I do believe that there exists confusion amongst some members who have tried to fit a square peg into a round hole, i.e. Capitalism and conservative political agendas with the Gospel of Christ.

OK. Bear with me then as I seek to understand better. Are you suggesting that the gospel of Christ cannot be fully practiced (or you can use different more precise words if those don

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Are you suggesting that the gospel of Christ cannot be fully practiced (or you can use different more precise words if those don

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Another way of asking this is, are those of us who now live under capitalism (happily or otherwise), and who have entered into LoS and LoC covenants in the temple, not now fully capable of keeping those covenants?

I'll throw my view in on this. I think that those now living under capitalism who have entered into the LoS and LoC covenants in the temple are fully capable of keeping those covenants. My contention is that capitalistic economics, and its associated notion of property rights, while laudable in many respects, is not Zion. And, to be clear, I don't think state socialism, or communism, is Zion. I don't think that a coercive force ought to enforce Zion-type economics and rights on a clearly diverse society where many of its members simply do not want that sort of society. It's a fact that in America capitalism is the economic structure, and it's supported by a coercive state. I don't think that revolutionaries, or politicians, or judges ought to simply force, against the wishes of a significant population, some more Zion-like society. I think that it ought not be forced for the simple reason that if it were, then it wouldn't be Zion-like. Droopy has consistently mischaracterized myself, David, and others on this point. That I think a Zion-type society is the right kind of society in terms economics and rights and so forth does not mean that I think it ought to be forced on people who want to go about things a different way. For my own part, my hope is that people will come to understand and accept that there is a better sort of society, and, over time, society will move in that direction from the bottom up, as it were, by people becoming more charitable, more trusting and worth of trust, and so forth. To put this in terms of the prisoner's dilemma, as it is right now, society is so fractured in terms of information sharing, trust, and things of that nature, that to play the cooperation card, betting that other players in the game will play the cooperation card, will be a losing strategy. However, if we can get to a point where we can trust each other more, and already have it in our minds that cooperation will more equitably benefit everyone, then we'll cooperate. So, my hope for a Zion-like society is, first and foremost, a hope that people will educate themselves and work to be, well, nicer and more trustworthy, and that by and by (and I mean maybe 200, 300, 500 years in the future) society will reflect the sort of society Joseph Smith seemed to have in mind.

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This is not how people become "rich". The only possible way to "be" rich is to produce; it is to work, labor and participate in the creation of wealth by serving your fellow beings economically.

Taken to its logical conclusion (and it has been), all David's general principle, as stated here, will produce, is a permanent, entrenched, dependent "underclass", whose culture will then, over time, produce the values, attitudes and perspectives that ensure its perpetuation. This is the history of welfare as income guarantee of the western democracies over the last half century, and it is tragic, to say the least.

BIZ: Um, Jesus DID say that the poor will be with us ALWAYS. Was he wrong?

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I'll throw my view in on this. I think that those now living under capitalism who have entered into the LoS and LoC covenants in the temple are fully capable of keeping those covenants. My contention is that capitalistic economics, and its associated notion of property rights, while laudable in many respects, is not Zion. And, to be clear, I don't think state socialism, or communism, is Zion. I don't think that a coercive force ought to enforce Zion-type economics and rights on a clearly diverse society where many of its members simply do not want that sort of society. It's a fact that in America capitalism is the economic structure, and it's supported by a coercive state. I don't think that revolutionaries, or politicians, or judges ought to simply force, against the wishes of a significant population, some more Zion-like society. I think that it ought not be forced for the simple reason that if it were, then it wouldn't be Zion-like. Droopy has consistently mischaracterized myself, David, and others on this point. That I think a Zion-type society is the right kind of society in terms economics and rights and so forth does not mean that I think it ought to be forced on people who want to go about things a different way. For my own part, my hope is that people will come to understand and accept that there is a better sort of society, and, over time, society will move in that direction from the bottom up, as it were, by people becoming more charitable, more trusting and worth of trust, and so forth. To put this in terms of the prisoner's dilemma, as it is right now, society is so fractured in terms of information sharing, trust, and things of that nature, that to play the cooperation card, betting that other players in the game will play the cooperation card, will be a losing strategy. However, if we can get to a point where we can trust each other more, and already have it in our minds that cooperation will more equitably benefit everyone, then we'll cooperate. So, my hope for a Zion-like society is, first and foremost, a hope that people will educate themselves and work to be, well, nicer and more trustworthy, and that by and by (and I mean maybe 200, 300, 500 years in the future) society will reflect the sort of society Joseph Smith seemed to have in mind.

That sounds great. I am just not sure that Zion and capitalism (or at least certain aspects thereof), are necessarily mutually exclusice or at odds with and can't coexist in a fulness of trust and cooperation and charity. At least, for my part, it hasn't been a problem in my personal attempt to live a Zion life (imperfectly at this point) in the here-and-now. But, then, maybe I am one of those lacking in education on the matter. We'll see.

Whatever the case, I very much respect the charitable thoughts and worthy goals expressed by you and David and Mercy. I believe we each (including Droopy and brother Schryver and others) selflessly desire the same ultimate thing. It is just a matter of discovering, through the endowment of further light and knowledge, what exactly the means for achieving that shared goal is, as desired by God.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Another way of asking this is, are those of us who now live under capitalism (happily or otherwise), and who have entered into LoS and LoC covenants in the temple, not now fully capable of keeping those covenants?

I would make the analogy with living the Law of Chastity and the Covenant of Marriage when one is single. One can live it fully to the extent one is allowed, but not fully as to the potential of the covenant. That must wait for the millennium. That does not excuse us, however, from living to the extent we can now. It is not an all or nothing and indeed, the only method, imo, for opening the way for a Zion society to follow the precepts as closely as possible in the here and now.

And in that way, we will change the world around us rather than waiting to be changed by the 'world' when Christ comes again.

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I would make the analogy with living the Law of Chastity and the Covenant of Marriage when one is single. One can live it fully to the extent one is allowed, but not fully as to the potential of the covenant. That must wait for the millennium. That does not excuse us, however, from living to the extent we can now. It is not an all or nothing and indeed, the only method, imo, for opening the way for a Zion society to follow the precepts as closely as possible in the here and now.

And in that way, we will change the world around us rather than waiting to be changed by the 'world' when Christ comes again.

I love the analogy, and you put the overall thought much better and more concisely than I did. Thanks.

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I love the analogy, and you put the overall thought much better and more concisely than I did. Thanks.

Thank you! Saying something "concisely" is a rarity for me.

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Just wanted to report on my own efforts at sharing with others this Thanksgiving.

I made two pumpkin pies and two key lime pies. I took one pumpkin pie to my in-laws' feast and one key lime pie to my parents' dessert party. Good times. But this means that I left one of each pie at home for my own consumption. My wife thinks this is a little piggy of me, but I have my needs. Further, due to the fact that my children will assist me in this endeavor, that means fewer slices for yours truly. Perhaps I'm just not ready for the LoC in the context of pies yet. The spirit is willing but the stomach is weak (and full).

Cheers.

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OK. Bear with me then as I seek to understand better. Are you suggesting that the gospel of Christ cannot be fully practiced (or you can use different more precise words if those don

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