Traditions of Our Fathers Pt 3

Being Zion

Part 3 of 7

These folks have been working on this stuff for a very long time and have highly developed the science of emotional persuasion, to their advantage. It is an informative study. Begin with Pavlov, move to John B. Watson and Edward Bernays, then be dazzled by Richard B. Wirthlin. Our modern media and communications systems are a literal emotional conditioning machine used by governments, corporations, and religions. The Army asks young men to join and “Be all that you can be.” What would be the result if they said, instead, “Be the most effective professional assassin you can be?” They know their craft. 

Their words are carefully selected for a specific effect. Envy is at the very heart of these emotional conditioning techniques. “Follow the prophet” leads children to a man, rather than to God, and then to institutional awe and the cult of personality. We love our rock stars. Wherever we find it, we can watch the craft of men binding others down with persuasive bright lights and tinkling brass. It’s not just the brutality and vicious nature of so many, it’s also the carefully crafted high-level strategies and tactics used to direct the use of emotional conditioning that is so astonishingly evil. Another reminder about why the Lord wept before Enoch.

And so we find, throughout history, mortal institutions varying from mildly intrusive to extremely difficult where liberty is concerned. If the institution is Nazi Germany, Mao's China, or Stalin's Russia, we have a problem. Physical coercion rules the day in such cases and recourse is all but impossible.

However, neither political or religious institutions have such authority today. We're free to use our agency to determine our own spiritual courses of action. Of course, that kind of thinking might get in the way of an institution subtly using deeply ingrained cultural traditions to stifle the agency of its members. Harold B. Lee’s correlation program has surely done that. It is up to those so stifled to awake and arise.

Two informative quotes come to mind about unrighteous dominion. In his diary, President David O. McKay wisely wrote:

“…the correlation work affects primarily the duplication of courses of study, and that it should not affect the organization of the Church…This correlation work is applicable to courses of study of priesthood and auxiliaries to avoid duplication. That is the purpose of the correlation work…it is easy to understand how the Apostasy took place in the early days…We cannot run the Church as we would run a business.” (Gregory A. Prince, William Robert Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, University of Utah Press, 2005, Pg. 150-1.)

And from a broader perspective:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” (C. S. Lewis, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, 1953,

In the case of the young restored church, the continued influence of established traditions stifled the new paradigm. We, then, wonder what was so revolutionary, and threatening about this new paradigm that it would be rejected as it was being offered, and then eliminated upon the death of its offerer? Even though we have the organizational plan in scripture, in Sec. 107, those in authority have kept it buried in plain sight for a century and three-quarters.

What, exactly, was the Lord offering as institutional administration? Was it so revolutionary that its very uniqueness was an intimidating factor? Perhaps its profound desirability threatened the established authority structures. Then we wonder: why are we not already using it, if it's such a great organizational system?

Course Changing

Steaming along in the fog, when the destroyer captain heard the words, "I'm a lighthouse," his paradigm, that he was speaking to another ship, was instantly shattered. He, must change course.

An institutional paradigm can be useful as a way to share a common worldview. But when that paradigm requires an emotional nationalism that is not compatible with rational and intelligent thought and behavior, the paradigm becomes a serious danger as we steam, full speed, toward the rocky coast of organizational unrighteous dominion.

If we are to understand what Joseph was getting at, we must be willing to change our organizational paradigm to both realize and enjoy what the Lord offers, still today. Or, we can continue to coast downward.

If we desire to leave the envy, strife, lyings, and deceivings of Babylon and truly seek this remarkable thing the Lord offered through Joseph, we can begin by considering a few brain-twisting questions.

Can direction, effectively, be both given and received without coercion, and still things get done? What if no one's in charge, and, everyone's in charge? What kind of an environment does such a condition require? The Lord answers that one for us with instructions for early senior church leadership:

"The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;

"Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord." (D&C 107:30-31)

For starters, then, this system requires its participants to think, and actually behave, very differently than anything taught even in the finest business schools, or even Priesthood quorums. The first steps are to banish pride, envy, deceit, and strife. Then begin to:

Think Horizontally

Possessions only represent a means to an end. They are tools. What they are not, in Zion, is a source of self-gratification and status. A couple just starting a family, for instance, needs a larger home. Another couple, having retired years ago would love to downsize. Babylon would enter into negotiations. In a world approaching Zion, the couples would simply trade homes.

In a horizontal world, there are no "superiors" with coercive authority hovering over me. Likewise, there are no "subordinates" to command. Oh, this sounds like a disorganized, unproductive hippie commune. How could this possibly work?

It won't unless, with resolute determination, we begin with a blank organizational slate. A fundamental principle, in this regard, recognizes that our relationships are more important than any demanded "rightness" of our opinions. We will bring virtually nothing with us from our current world. Success requires a people willing to step away from past traditions and follow the Lord into nearly uncharted territory. 

And yet, sometimes the Lord speaks as if He hasn't changed anything. What does it mean to have authority "over" people?  This, for example, takes us back to the beginning:

"And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever." (D&C 107:55)

Again, what does it mean to have authority "over" people? Can you tell them what to do? Also, what does it mean to be "under the direction" of a person or group?

"The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church..." (D&C 107:33)

When we say "over" or "under the direction," by default, we think there is some kind of coercive authority at work. Else why would anyone do as they are told? Why, indeed. (This is not a question. It is a parenthetical, and personal, lament.)

In our new paradigm, authority certainly exists but coercion, just as certainly, does not. Early on, the Lord identified those "noble and great ones" who would be "rulers."

"Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

"And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born." (Abr 3:22-23)

Babylon defines "rulership" by its level of coercive power. Zion defines rulership by its example. The Lord’s "rulers" provide an accurate measure, or gauge, which may correct us as we measure and build our lives. Therefore, a ruler is a teacher. An effective ruler must live the list. (D&C 107:30-31) In Zion, when we say "over" or "under the direction of," we identify a responsibility to teach and mentor, not an opportunity to coerce, in any degree.

In The Being Zion Category
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