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By Moroni Spagnola
Can you be a socialist and priest at the same time? I was a socialist priest and got sealed in the Temple with my family. My stake president says it's okay.
Why do members keep sharing talks from fifty years ago to persuade me into their Utah Culture? I love the Book of Mormon and it does not support unregulated capitalism. If anything my sacred scriptures support socialism. I will use the Book of Mormon as my evidence. If you leave a comment, I will not reply to general conference consider cultural doctrine. Use the Book of Mormon to defend your stance of why I can't be a priest in the church.
I love the Book of Mormon because one theme in it is obvious: At their most righteous, the Nephites were benevolent socialists; at their most depraved, they were greedy free-market capitalists.
In the zenith of Nephite culture, "the Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind and they did have all things in common — and there were no poor among them." Having "all things in common" suggests a society invested in public infrastructure and welfare for the whole.
Redistribution is not an anomaly in Mormon scriptures. Joseph Smith declared that "It is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin." (Doctrine and Covenants 49:20).
For any conservative this is surely commie talk! Yet Smith persisted, "If you are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things" (D&C 78:5-6).
Early Mormon leaders advocated a United Order to redistribute wealth for the benefit of all Saints.
Though redistribution is the highest economic order in Mormon scripture, LDS Priest vehemently denounce "democratic socialism." I guess some Latterday Saints seem to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a de facto 14th Article of Faith: We believe in the unquestioned virtue of unregulated capitalism.
But Mormon scripture makes such a belief indefensible. The notorious villains of Nephite civilization were the Gadianton Robbers, who perpetuated policies that exacerbated class inequality. They eventually "did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God" (Helaman 6:39).
Many politically powerful Latter-day Saints have also turned their back on the poor and working class in this country. They are determined to eliminate the very social programs that have traditionally protected vulnerable populations. Conversely, they are equally invested in protecting the wealthy.
They demand fiscal austerity but are unwilling to fairly tax the super rich. They demand the poor make sacrifices, but are unwilling to end corporate welfare and tax loopholes that keep big business from sharing the burden. They want to cut public funding for education, arts and health care but remain unwilling to defund our military occupations abroad.
They denounce socialism but have no problem when the redistribution of public wealth goes upward into private hands. Gadianton himself would feel right at home amidst Utah's GOP.
My reading of the Book of Mormon is not idiosyncratic. I saw in my sacred texts a spiritual rationale to support my own socialist programs, including a National Health Care System, that Bernie Sanders will give to the people.
I actually believe the admonition of Jesus, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40.
Fair-minded Latter-day Saints must reclaim their sacred texts from free-market fundamentalists. Don't be taken in by the right-wing performance art of a hysterical conservative that puts his politics above his religion. Americans can support both a robust market economy and sustainable safety nets for the meek and humble. But it will require that corporations and affluent citizens invest deeply in public infrastructure.
The Book of Mormon narrative, regardless of its historicity, admonishes contemporary Latter-day Saints to reject riches and to care for the poor and needy. Democratic socialism is the very essence of Mormon theology and scripture. It is our common quest for Zion.
Now it's your turn. Use the book of Mormon to defend unregulated capitalism.
Really impressed with Kate Holbrook's interview with Terryl Givens. She's thoughtful, candid, and inspiring as she speaks about her persistence to get a PhD and work full time for the church as a manger of church history. She's working on a project with Lisa Tate on the history of the young women's organization.
One thing I caught that I hadn't heard before was when Terryl asks her about whether she felt a sense of loss and a sense of jubilation when studying the history of the RS. Joseph envisioned a more collaborative relationship with the male priesthood, more autonomy, abundance of spiritual gifts, authority to administer ordinances including healing by the laying of hands. Kate responds that she understands the hyperfocus on this time period, but she feels there is a lost opportunity in recognizing the accomplishments of the women of the 20th century - she then backtracks a bit and says:
"I don't want to say that their isn't a difference, between - a time when a woman was able to say I have this terrific idea she's say the General RS president and she goes and talks to the president of the church about it. That is certainly different than now, when she goes and talks to someone in the presiding bishopric, and it has to go through several levels to even get to the president. There is a loss, and there is a difference."
I had no idea that the General RS president did not have direct access to the quorum of the 12, and first presidency? Why in 3 heavens does the general RS president still have such an auxiliary level of access to the presiding apostolic quorum, access to financial influence through Pres Bishopric perhaps, but no real budget to work with? No seat on the correlation committee?
Kate has a great story about how Ardeth Greene Kapp (General YW president 84-92') while receiving a downpour of revelation would use innovative, clever ways and technology to push the ideas upward through the hierarchy.
Black, White, & Mormon II Conference Panel 2: Getting Past the Racial Past.
Nancy Tessman Auditorium, Salt Lake Public Library, June 30, 2018.
Dr. Paul Reeve UofU, primary writer of the Race and Priesthood essay. Book: Religion of a Different Color Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. https://www.amazon.com/Religion-Different-Mormon-Struggle-Whiteness/dp/0199754071
New justifications for the previous priesthood and temple bans
We should just move forward?
"Obiously you are talking to an historian and an historian will never believe that we should just move forward without actually understanding our racial past."
"The LDS church disavowed in 2013 the theories advanced in the past from the 19th century about the curse of cain, fencesitters, less valiant in the war in the heaven, however, what does this mean since 1978?
What I have seen is a variety of new justifications for the previous priesthood and temple restrictions crop up to replace those that had been disavowed and its like playing whack a mole at the carnival!"
If we don't understand our racial history we will continue to try these kinds of justifications. That's why the history matters. Let me give you some examples:
New false justifications:
1. Spread the gospel in stages first jews then gentiles as parallel to first the gospel got go go to the white people and then to black people. Refutation: The first documented black person joined the church in 1830 the founding year of the faith. There was no parallel to jews first then gentile as it was always taken to black people and black people were ordained in the early days of the church.
2. God has always discriminated in distributing priesthood power to the tribe of Levi as parallel. The tribe of levi analogy is a false parallel because none of the other tribes were prevented from partaking of the ordinances necessary for their salvation like temple and priesthood restrictions prevented black people of African descent from doing. The levites were in essence the old testament equivalent of modern day temple workers, not the equivalent of modern day priesthood holders.
3. Giving black people access to temple and priesthood would have brought down the church. This idea suggests that conforming to American racial norms and prejudices was necessary for the church to survive. However, the same year 1852 that Brigham Young openly announced the racial priesthood ban the church openly acknowledged that its members believed in and practiced polygamy. Polygamy brought considerable scorn from the nation and did not end until the federal gov nearly ground the lds church into dust, and yet lds leaders willfully stood against the curse of derision for what they believed was a divine principle. Why would conforming to racial prejudices be necessary? standard of truth from wentworth letter: "the standard of truth has been erected . . so no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing . . . . " and yet treating black people equally would have? "
4. Revelation removed the restriction therefore a revelation must have started it. This idea suggests that the ending of the restriction explains the beginnings. I do not have to first tell my children to touch a hot stove before I tell them don't touch that it's hot!" If there was a revelation to begin the restriction - can we read it? Will someone show it to us? can anyone point to it? Where is it? There is a total of 1 revelation on race and the priesthood in the canon and it came in june 1978 and returned mormonism to its racially universal roots.
5. God will not allow the prophet to let the prophet lead the church astray. Taken within in its proper context this comes out of wilford woodruff in 1890 who was defending the manifesto ending polygamy as a revelation in the face of accusations from fellow mormons that he was a fallen prophet and had merely bowed to political pressure. Assuming that a prophet is infallible is a violation of the central tenet of agency. If a prophet has agency a prophet can make mistakes.
6. mormon leaders were trapped by historical circumstances - everyone was racist back then. this idea is based on the premise that we should not judge historical figures by the standards of today, but by the standards of their day. Presentism as historians define it is superimposing present day values and understandings on the past. It is not an act of presentism to hold those leaders accountable for their choices because people in the past argued against slavery and for racial equality including eventually joseph smith. Also joseph smith sanctioned the ordination of black men to the priesthood, he was not trapped by historical circumstances. brigham young said, in 1847, we don't care about the color. therefore when he started to care about color he was not trapped by the views of the time because he had already expressed an open view. brigham young said we have one of the best elders - an african (Walker Lewis)
7. We don't know why.
brigham young said he knew why. 5 feb 1852. If there never was a prophet or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before i tell you this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of cain. I know that they are. I know they cannot bear rule in the priesthood in the first sense of the word." April 2006. Gordon b Hinckley "how can any man [Brigham Young, Joseph F Smith] arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible? "
In my personal life since I was born just barely after 1978, I have heard all of these at one time or another. Many in just the last few months. Question is what can we do to abandon these justifications for the ban proposed >1978? Who are the primary proponents of these justifications? Can we identify the sources and push back against further proliferation?
Time to lighten up a little I will start with a true funny story.
I was a ward Christmas Supper one time, the table were long and seated about 12 to 14 people.
The blessing was said and the serving began it was normal in that ward to eat as soon as you got
served being a larger ward it would take to long for all to be served before eating.
Our table got served first, the young people serving put a bowl in front of each one of us at our table.
We said to each other how novel soup was a Christmas Supper starter. Then started spooning into our mouths like there
was no tomorrow .After a few minutes of spooning a Brother comes running from the kitchen very
excited and speaking loudly. Stop don't eat that, you are eating all the gravy. Yes it really happened.
I know this has been discussed previously (but couldn't find the thread). I recently came to the realization that every 4th Sunday for 6 months will be based on 1 topic. The first 6 months of 2018 happens to have the topic of Sabbath worship- keeping the Sabbath day holy. Regardless of what one thinks about that particular topic, is it reasonable to expect 6 lessons on consecutive months on the same topic to be stimulating to the membership? I struggle to see how even the most dedicated member could be excited about hearing the same topic (presumably with a different spin) for 6 straight months.
Has anyone been involved in the pilot programs for this approach (which also used Sabbath Observance as the topic- so you get another 6 months...yay!!)? How did it work? Were eyes more glazed over than usual on the 5th and 6th month? Seriously, is anyone looking forward to this? I will be thrilled if someone can show me that I have misunderstood this teaching approach and it won't really be 6 months of the same topic.