Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Enmity rising

More of our modern life is dependent upon the grace of God than you realize. God has granted the developed world a great deal of light in the form of the principles upon which society relies.

Those who have traveled to developing nations know what happens without these. In much of Africa, you can't have electricity because people will tear down the lines to sell them for copper. Think of what this scavenging requires: sufficient ignorance and/or selfishness in those who tear them down, those who buy them and melt them down, and those who buy the copper from the middlemen.

As we turn away from this light, the natural consequence is that the outcomes that rely upon it will recede and disappear.

Enmity is rising. The spirit of enmity will cause:

  • Poor against rich.
  • Left against right.
  • Race against race.
  • Young against old.
  • Sibling against sibling.
  • Spouse against spouse.
  • Child against parent.
  • Parent against child.
  • Neighbor against neighbor.
  • City against city.
  • State against state.
  • Finally, country against country.

I could speak for ten hours and not finish describing what this will look like.

If you have ears to hear and eyes to see, project yourself into what your world will look like as this spirit increases, and as all societal norms are removed, and prepare accordingly.

35 And I said unto them: Be not troubled, for, when all these things shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled.
36 And when the light shall begin to break forth, it shall be with them like unto a parable which I will show you—
37 Ye look and behold the fig trees, and ye see them with your eyes, and ye say when they begin to shoot forth, and their leaves are yet tender, that summer is now nigh at hand;
38 Even so it shall be in that day when they shall see all these things, then shall they know that the hour is nigh. (D&C 45)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Update on talks next month


Saturday, March 23

Title: "Revelation, learning, and discerning"
Time: 9AM
Location: TBD
Venue size: 250 people
Audience: Current LDS (if you have read my blog or books, it is probably best to leave these seats for someone else. I will post the presentation later).

Sunday, March 24

Title: "Seeing eye to eye to bring Zion."
Time: 9:30AM-10:30AM
Location: Lehi. Email me with headcount for RSVP purposes and I'll give you the address
Venue size: 50 people
Audience: Believers in Christ who accept the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

Title: "Acquisition of truth: why it matters, how to do it."
Time: 3PM (1hr 15min)
Location: Centerville
Venue size: 500 people
Audience: Believers in Christ who accept the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

TO DO:

I am still open to the possibility of speaking in a home Saturday afternoon. Email me with location, demographic, capacity, and estimated headcount if you have a potential venue for consideration. 

OTHER:

For those far away: I hope to record each of these presentations and post them for free online. Please don't travel hours to attend the talks.

For those close by: Last time I traveled to Utah to give a book talk, about 20 people showed up. When I asked some folks I know that lived close by why they didn't come, they said it was too far (~20 minute drive). I'm not giving these talks because I like attention, but because I believe the content is worth the sacrifice to obtain and deliver it. If you have a reason to believe otherwise, by all means, follow your heart. If you don't, please consider that further light and truth only comes proportional to the heed and diligence we exert to obtain it.

Email: 2robDOGsmith@gmail.com without dog

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Book is drafted / Speaking venues needed

Hi all,
I finished the book draft Sunday. Now begins the oh-so-fun editing process.

I will be coming to Utah to give a free talk (and possibly more than one) related to the topics in the book Saturday and Sunday March 23-24.

I need your help finding venues for speaking in Utah and/or Salt Lake counties. I have several topics to speak on that are non-repetitive (though they overlap slightly).

I'd like to give a large talk to a general audience on Saturday March 23rd. For this talk, we will need a projector and (if the room is large enough) a hands-free microphone and speakers. I'd like to have seating for at least 300 people. I already have one potential venue, but it is good to have options. If you have a place where we can do the large talk, email me the address, capacity, cost, times available, and contact.

I would also like to give several talks (pending interest) in homes on Sunday and, depending on the time of the main talk, possibly on Saturday. We shouldn't need any equipment. If you can find at least 25 people to come, please email me with where you live, what times you prefer, and how many people you expect (be conservative).

If at all possible I would also like to give a talk to adults over 50, a talk to people under 30, and a talk to divorced/widowed/older single women. If you are in one of these demographic groups and would like to host a meeting, please email me indicating that. There won't be restrictions on who can come, but the material will be more interesting and applicable for those groups than others.

Email your info to 2robsmithelephant@gmail.com without the word elephant.

Edit 2/21/19 - I guess it might help if I actually say what the book is about!

Title:
The Glory of God is Intelligence: Acquiring and Disseminating Light and Truth

Table of contents:
Part One: Fundamentals of Truth 3
Chapter 1: The Light of the World 4
Chapter 2: Good and Evil 11
Chapter 3: Awareness 36
Chapter 4: Saved by Knowledge 53
Chapter 5: Embracing the Truth 86
Chapter 6: Loving a Lie 97
Chapter 7: God’s Power is Truth 109
Chapter 8: Why All Truth Seekers Should Believe in Christ 126
Part Two: Searching for Truth 141
Chapter 9: Understanding the Search for Truth 142
Chapter 10: Revelation 155
Chapter 11: Acquisition of Truth Requires Change 166
Chapter 12: Evaluating Putative Truth 182
Chapter 13: Questions and Contradictions 198
Chapter 14: Consequences and Constraints 211
Chapter 15: Responding to Truth from Others 234
Chapter 16: Evaluating Truth in Others 255
Part Three: Disseminating Truth 271
Chapter 17: What Happens When Leaders Don’t Lead 272
Chapter 18: Guiding Others in Their Search for Truth 285
Chapter 19: Ascent 318
Chapter 20: Descent 344
Chapter 21: Sacred Loneliness 362

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Show me truth

Truth can be found in strange places. 

Consider these lyrics from a progressive rock band from 1992:

There was no time for pain 
No energy for anger 
The sightlessness of hatred slips away 
Walking through winter streets alone 
He stops and takes a breath 
With confidence and self-control
I look at the world and see no understanding 
I'm waiting to find some sense of strength 
I'm begging you from the bottom of my heart 
To show me understanding
I need to live life 
Like some people never will 
So find me kindness 
Find me beauty 
Find me truth 
When temptation brings me to my knees 
And I lay here drained of strength 
Show me kindness 
Show me beauty 
Show me truth
The way your heart sounds 
Makes all the difference 
It's what decides if you'll endure the pain that we all feel 
The way your heart beats 
Makes all the difference 
In learning to live

This song often brings me to tears...

The new book is almost drafted. I'm crawling toward the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

In my own defense

There are a lot of people out there talking trash about me. I don't really have much of a reputation to save, nor pride to nurse, but I have to address these comments, at least in general, so that no one is precluded from benefiting from what I write by weak arguments against it.

Everyone will find something about me to get offended by. I'm an excommunicated Mormon, which makes LDS uncomfortable, but I was excommunicated for believing Jesus, which makes them REALLY uncomfortable. I believe that the text of the Book of Mormon was given by God, and believe that an honest analysis of it in the context of science and archeology support its contents rather than refute them, which makes progressive ex Mormons uncomfortable. I believe in the literal application of God's commandments as found in scripture and personal revelation, and by following that belief have come to the point where I have had visions and visitations and revelations not a few, including from Jesus, which seems to make everyone uncomfortable.

To the LDS: I may have done more to promote the doctrines believed by Joseph Smith than anyone since Joseph Smith, yet I have made public strong arguments against the core traditions that came after Joseph Smith. This makes me very dangerous.

To the Ex-Mormons: I have studied far more history than most of them, agree with most of their arguments against the LDS, and yet have proved through my own experiences that God is real and that anyone can obtain a seeing, hearing, and touching relationship with him if they will follow the commandments he gives. This makes me very dangerous.

This analysis can be repeated for every sect.

New flash: I'm controversial. 

Should this be surprising? No. People who teach that there is a better way are summarily rejected by all sides. This is why the path is strait and narrow, and few there be that find it. 

The unfortunate effect of my controversy is that no matter how reason-based an argument I make, there are sufficient objections to tempt anyone from actually reading and thinking about what I write.

The point of what I write and what I do is not to promote myself. If what I cared about was my reputation or what I get out of it, I would do things very differently. Thinking about this for even a nanosecond would yield many things I could do that would be more effective if personal gain were my aim.

"He thinks he is right and everyone else is wrong..."

False. I am inherently open-minded.

Like Joseph Smith said, I can say that my religion is no religion at all. I believe truth no matter where I find it, and I rejoice every time someone points something out to me that I hadn't before considered. No exceptions. The problem is that those who make this accusation of me do not feel the same way. Because of this, they have not spent nearly as much time and effort as I have in acquiring truth. Because of that, almost everything they present to me is something I've already heard. They conflate their shallow and usually parroted argument with my being arrogant. It's not so.

"But I heard you..."

The story of the three little pigs is very different from the perspective of the wolf. There is a funny kid's book that tells it that way. 

Take a second and think of all the things that legitimate holy men did in the scriptures. You know, really good people like Jesus and Isaiah and the like. We have the true story of what happened in the scriptures. But this is told from the perspective of believers. How do you think it would be different if it was told from the perspective of non-believers? 

In 1 Kings 17, Elijah brings a boy back to life. He "stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, 'O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again.'” In spite of the fact that Elijah was actually acting in God's name, and actually raised this kid from the dead, if the story were told by some people, it would read: "Elijah molested this kid three times! Clearly, he is a fraud!"

Luckily (that I know of at least), no one has accused me of pedophilia. However, there are at least a few rumors floating around that are equally baseless, that are at best gross misrepresentations of true events, and at worse, completely fabricated.

Note: Lest they say "see! He just compared himself to Jesus, Isaiah, and Elijah," my point here is to say if these men, being above reproach, can be smeared so, how much more the people below their stature?

"But this guy really hates you..."

I have at least half a dozen people whose whole mission in life seems to be to say very nasty things about me--typically in places I don't know about and therefore can't defend myself.

Suppose for a moment that God knows much more than you do. What tools do you suppose he would use to try to get that knowledge to you? Though not the only mechanism, the scriptures are replete with him using people to do that, and for good reasons (which I won't get into here). And what does this look like? It almost always takes the following form: some weirdo shows up without any earthly authority and tells people there is a better way of doing things. And, in unison, they hate him.

While being hated and ill spoken of does not imply that you convey God's word, everyone who conveys God's word is hated and ill spoken of.

As written in the Book of Mormon: "…if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil." (Helaman 13:26)

Now, I have to make a disclaimer because I'm invoking a scripture using the p word in explaining something about myself. "Prophet" is a word that almost always either means more or less than those invoking it mean. So here is a paraphrase that might not trigger people as badly:

If someone who claims to have higher order truth in some topic tries to persuade you that his positions are more efficacious than yours, you will get angry; you will do whatever you can to shut him up and discredit his message, including saying he is a bad person and does bad things, because he says what you think and do is capable of improvement.

The real problem: the ideology of "whatever I know is all there is to know"

Of course, truth searching requires rational evaluation and, when that checks out, personal testing. It isn't enough to just dismiss things out of hand because of some ad hominem argument. 

But very few people want to consider that what they believe is either incorrect or imperfect (although you kind of have to believe that if you also believe God is all knowing and you are not). 

Most people believe that whatever their heart desires is right and above questioning. This is truer in modern times than in the past, when people used to assume that someone, somewhere, knew more than they did about something. 

Modern people embrace a belief held by only the extremely wicked in the past. They do not believe there could be anything better than what they already believe, and they will viciously attack anyone who dares challenge that assertion:

27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light? (Helaman 13)

Jesus was not sent to the 99 who thought they needed no repentance. Instead, he ministered to the 1 who believed there was something better than what they had. If you hear a chorus of people saying what is quoted above--that you can imagine what you want reality to be and then act as if it were that way, and anyone who dares say it isn't so is Hitler, that should be a sign to you that maybe that message they are ranting against might be worth listening to, rather than the opposite.

Conclusion

In fact, if you are willing to investigate the criticisms people use against me, you will see that the arguments they give against me are actually strong arguments in favor of considering what I have said.

I've written a book laying out some false traditions in the LDS church, but I don't and won't condemn the founding doctrines or the founder like most ex Mormons have done. I've had charismatic experiences with God, but I haven't founded a church like most who make that claim have done. I've had "special" experiences, but instead of claiming that makes me special like most have done, I've written a whole book making the argument that these are obtained by following very basic doctrines within the reach of every person. I've spent years of my life writing blog posts and books to share what I'm learning, but I haven't and won't charge money for them as everyone seems to have done. All I get for my work is people saying awful things about me. I believe in polygamy, but I have not done any of the things most expect me to do (though some incorrectly accuse me of doing so): in fact, I've actually made what is in my opinion the strongest argument against the practice. You should ask yourself why. 

My behavior does not match the motives my enemies claim I have. It does match the modern version of behavior of people in the scriptures. You should ask yourself why.

I can't spend the time necessary to answer every criticism of myself that I hear about. I have far too much writing to do, and no more hours of the night left from which to draw. But I hope these thoughts give you reason to exercise some caution in your interpretation of what you hear. 

Everything I have written has had the following objective: Help people acquire and assimilate higher truth through trusting God, seeking his word, and obeying it more fully than they currently do.

I hope you consider what I write, and that you test it, and keep it if it is of value to you.