Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Question of Process

Background: I've seen a number of communications from people who take no issue with the Lots Statement of Principles document, but who intend to dispute its adoption because they do not agree with the process by which it was created, selected, or adopted. The point of these various communications is to suggest that it is not the document, but the process, which is the higher objective of the Lord, and that we have still failed to create a process that  pleases the Lord.

Some offer various solutions that involve starting over, organizing a new effort, changing the approach to "include everyone", and going through another lengthy process to create a document in a way "everyone" approves. They cite the first 8 pages of the Answer and Covenant as justification for this view, by claiming the current process has mistreated and compelled, and trampled the agency of those who disagree. Claims of unrighteous dominion have been leveled. 

Karen Strong has written a response to these ideas, that I believe is worth sharing. She makes some excellent points regarding the process; and these are points we need to keep in mind as we choose whether to dispute or not dispute the adoption of the Lots statement. Here is what she wrote (slightly edited for grammar and clarity):

I don't argue the importance of us all needing to work on the things expressed in the first 8 pages of the Answer.  But the suggestion of the authors is that the process by which we have gotten the Lots document has been coercive in some manner, and judgment is made that hearts have been wrong, or the counsel of the Lord in the first 8 pages ignored. I disagree with the premise that the process of the lots was a failure on our part as a people, or in the eyes of the Lord.

Of all the efforts that have been attempted, this method was the most inclusive, the most "permission seeking," the most "counsel seeking," and the most unbiased of any and all methods suggested to date.

The covenant body had already spent an entire 7 months in discussion, including using fellowship reps at meetings all summer, and two movement-wide petitions to the Lord to "know His part," before the proposal was finally written up to use the method of lots.

After the proposal was written, weeks were spent informing people of its existence. This was followed by a movement-wide vote in which every individual was able to speak for themselves as to whether they felt it was a method worth using.  The voting showed 87% agreed with the proposed process.  That was not "forcing" a method or a document upon anyone, but was rather merely asking if the people were willing to give it a try.  No one else had even attempted to get permission from the body before proceeding. Not even the fellowship rep effort did that---we were just "told" that's what was happening.

After permission was granted, EVERY covenant holder had a both the right and the invitation to submit their name to be drawn. No other method has figured out a way for every person in the movement to be put on equal footing, to respect each person as having equal ability and qualification to be chosen. This method respected even the quiet and meek among us, and allowed God to choose, rather than simply handing control to those who are most vocal. This was one of the most important issues to me, because I knew certain voices who were dominating the issue, even among the fellowship rep meetings. This approach put even the most humble among us on equal footing with equal opportunity.

Remember, too, that the method honored those among us who felt they had been inspired or "told" to write a SofP, too.  All of those people were asked to submit their previously written documents as a means of giving "counsel" to the seven who were chosen by lot. (And the seven read all the submissions and used many of the ideas they expressed.)

No vying for position was possible with drawing lots. It was left to the Lord, and the Lord alone. Interestingly, He drew from all around the world to represent us. The seven literally became representatives of the covenant body to fulfill the assignment. From England, to Texas, to Washington state, and from northern to southern Utah, the Lord chose those whom He would. Is it somehow more noble or superior if we choose our own representatives, rather than allowing the Lord to choose?

After the rough draft was written, input from the entire body was also sought for 3 days. No other document has done that either. And almost every suggestion the body offered was heeded, unless it went contrary to scripture.

In addition to the above outline of how inclusive and objective this "process" has proven to be, it turns out to be almost a perfect reflection of what Denver suggested in his "Dances with Wolves" podcast, as a way to come to a decision when nothing else has worked (which nothing had---even the fellowship rep attempt had failed).

Various authors have written to promote a future system of having representatives for fellowships make decisions--and yet what we got with the Lots was representatives for the entire covenant body chosen, not by voting, but by the Lord, through lot. No favoritism or power could be exerted in who was chosen as representatives. 

The authors suggest moving forward with a system that entails having a fellowship rep who speaks for the rest of the fellowship. There are several problems with this--I will address just a couple.

First, we are not trying to come up with a governing body for fellowships. A means of communication may be worthwhile, but a governing body presents numerous challenges. (We should remain flexible for whatever future assignments may be in how they are resolved.)

Next, I see a major flaw in relying upon a fellowship rep. system as described. It is like having a Senate without a House of Representatives--which a student of US Government realizes is a real imbalance of power.

The Senate was created to ensure that small states had as much say as larger states. The House ensures that the actual numbers of people aren't swallowed up by small states either. There is balance.

In this movement, no two fellowships are the same. There are very large fellowships, and there are fellowships that consist of a single individual. (I know, I've been on the fellowship locator and found many such "single individual" or family fellowships.) Therefore, having one rep per fellowship necessarily creates an imbalance of representation.

Experience from the summer of 2017, where we sent fellowships reps, proved to be fatally flawed.

There were people who created fellowships just before the meeting, so as to be able to come as a rep and participate.  Such a system does nothing to prevent any person seeking more power and a stronger voice to create their own fellowship for the objective of "being heard." This is an imbalance of power, as opposed to those who may be in fellowships of 20-40 people (like mine).

There were also, reps who were told things by their fellowship, only for the fellowship to learn after the fact, that their rep did not actually represent what the fellowship had agreed upon, but came with their own agenda. We've had enough of this sort of thing in America. We do not need this in this movement, in my opinion.

And do not be fooled, sending reps did NOT prevent the meek and humble from being overrun by the vocal. The exact opposite occurred. There are always those voices who will dominate in a group. Also, the meek and humble are least likely to volunteer to represent the fellowship. Interestingly, in comparison, the lots method allowed all to have an equal chance of being chosen as the covenant body rep.

I was a witness to the complete opposite occurring with the seven chosen by lot.

In stark contrast to what occurred with the fellowship rep attempt in the summer of 2017, I was a fly on the wall to every discussion had by the seven. Never have I seen such respect between individuals. There was complete calm, everyone spoke in turn and had equal say, there was no vying for power, every decision made was done in unanimity, there was the presence of the spirit that was so strong it permeated our home the entire week. I FINALLY had hope for Zion from what I saw happen.  I think there must be something that occurs when individuals feel the Lord has asked them to do something, versus when we take it upon ourselves to do something---because the humility and unity of those seven during that week was palpable.

The final document was again presented to the people for their approval. 

So as not to infringe upon anyone's rights, opinions, or ability to mutually agree or not---the final document written by those whom the Lord had chosen to represent the covenant body in doing this work, was again submitted to the people for their examination and acceptance or rejection.

93.3% of over 500 people (more than had been involved in any other effort) gave their approval.

Yes, 6.7% did not agree.  Those individuals were reached out to and spoken with if they were willing.  Every attempt was made to answer questions, satisfy concerns, and gently persuade. (I have a $42 international phone bill to prove it!  LOL) In the end, NO document is EVER going to get 100% acceptance.  That is just the nature of working with a group of 500+ individuals.

These individuals represented by that 6.7% are important.  They are covenant holders of value.  But they are given the opportunity to still state they do not prefer the document, but choose to not dispute. We've all been given a way to accommodate our personal preferences and still be found agreeable--by a generous Lord.

Yet people keep accusing others of not having their hearts right. 

I keep hearing people say our hearts are not right.  Whose heart among those who participated in the effort to do this work by lots was not right? Are you really willing to make that judgment? None of those who proposed the idea of lots were even allowed to submit their names into the lottery. How could their heart be but filled with a desire to follow the inspiration they were given? There was nothing in it for them except to serve and follow the impressions they got.

I witnessed the hearts of the seven, and I give my witness their hearts were right, as the presence of the spirit bore witness to that.

Many of those who supported the lots had been supportive of every effort and attempt by other covenant holders to try to figure this out before. They were not stubborn. Many of those involved were individuals whose very concern was that the humble and meek among us were getting trammeled upon by the vocal and were asking the Lord how that could be rectified.

A word of caution.

I understand that we all wish that there was a perfect solution to this whole thing--something to happen that would suddenly allow us all to be on the same page and see this exactly the same way. I think we assume that this would be evidence that our hearts were finally right.

We have been asked to work on our hearts. This is going to be a long process that isn't achieved in a year, or two--and will never be achieved by some among us. We've been told this already (i.e. there are tares among us). I do not know whose hearts or right or whose are not; but I do see some evidence that suggests people are misjudging those involved in the lots and the process.

In the end, we have not been asked to mutually agree upon a process anyway, but to mutually agree upon a statement of principles. I believe it has been a manifestation of the hand of the Lord that He inspired the Lots method and all that it entailed--and that He bore witness of His approval of the process by the Dances with Wolves podcast--Perhaps just in the nick of time for everyone in this movement to reflect upon before this coming Sunday's vote to adopt. He is a God of miracles, after all, if we will have eyes to see it.

What shows more about our hearts? To continue to haggle over a dislike of this or that in a process that you may or may not be right about--in fact, you may even be fighting against the very thing God gave us to solve the dilemma we faced? Or to say, I accept the flaws and inadequacies of my brothers and sisters, but accept in good faith that their hearts were right and I can support this document that contains the words of the Lord and His servants. If the Lord rejects the work, He will let us know, but I can unite with my brothers and sisters, and lay my personal preferences aside, with the knowledge that even I may be operating off opinion, rather than truth, in what I think.

Which of those two is really what the Lord would have us do?

Sincerely, and with pleading in my heart that we cease the finger-pointing, and finding fault with those who seek to do the Lord's will and be on His errand, and prayerfully unite with one another--asking the Lord if that would please Him to see us do that.

Karen Strong

30 comments:

  1. I think for representation (for future reference), a male or female sustained by the minimum of what is required to have a fellowship that functions fully (7 women and at least 1 priesthood holder) would work. Something similar works for priesthood use (7 women sustaining).

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  2. Thank you Karen, for a good summary of what we all as a people have been through and for presenting the unity and the Lords hand in what we experienced as we labored in the spirit over the documents, resulting in what will be presented to the people. May we continue to grow in this glorious adventure and opportunity that will hopefully bring us before His presence, in Zion.

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  3. “Dispute” seems to be a word thrown around quite flippantly lately and, as a result, it seems to be losing meaning. For example, the wording in the voting language does not use the word “dispute,” and so using it to describe those that do not vote to sustain this document doesn’t appear to apply. One can certainly vote ‘no’ to the adoption of the document while still not disputing the final decision, whatever that ends up being.
    Words have meaning and using “disputer” in this scenario feels dividing rather than uniting. It feels to bully those that disagree rather than just accepting that they have come to different conclusions. I, for one, feel very comfortable voting to not adopt this document, and still remain a member in good standing with ya’ll. I hope that’s the case. I don’t dispute with those that want to adopt this document and I also don’t dispute with those who don’t.

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    1. Taggart,

      The Lord is the one who used the word dispute. He is the one who applied it to the definition of the task we have at hand. He has asked that we adopt a statement of principles by mutual agreement---or in other words---adopt a statement of principles "by between one another choosing to not dispute." It's not about how any of this makes us "feel." It's about the Lord's terminology as applied to the assignment.

      So if you have a majority of covenant holders that agree upon a document and are ready to adopt it after 18 months of labor, but you vote to oppose giving your support to their desires and effort, then by the Lords definition, you ARE acknowledging that you still choose to dispute what they are doing, because you have not entered into mutual agreement with them.

      On the other hand, you expressed that for you, you "don’t dispute with those that want to adopt this document and I also don’t dispute with those who don’t." To be honest, in some ways, that's like saying, I want my cake and to eat it too. But if that is the TRUE position that you have taken, then you should NOT be voting either Yes or No. Because if you vote "no" you actually are opposing and disputing with those who say "yes." And if your true desire is to NOT dispute with either group---then voting either way puts you in a conundrum.

      The only truly legitimate option ANYONE has that cannot bear the thought of going down on record as "disputing with those wanting to adopt a document" OR "disputing those who oppose the adoption"--- is the option to ABSTAIN. To abstain from participating in the adoption with a yes or a no is the only valid manner for an individual who desires to say, "I'm not disputing with either group."

      But to say you are neutral, but then "oppose" those seeking adoption, and then say, "Well, I really wasn't disputing those of you who feel this should be adopted," is just not an accurate reflection of what is going on, or what the Lord wanted to see from us, from my perspective. No matter how the vote is worded---we know what words the Lord used in this matter.

      To me, as one who is going to support the adoption, you are "disputing," because you choose to not mutually agree with the statement of principles that has already been selected by the voice of the people---which people desire now to have it adopted by mutual agreement. So if you are concerned about how it "feels," then recognize that it will be seen by those who support adoption, that you are disputing with them, by refusing to enter into mutual agreement with them.

      Just something to consider. Perhaps abstaining ought to be seriously considered by more individuals if they have your perspective?

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    2. Please don't conflate my disagreement with disputing. They are not the same. I am familiar with the Lord's wording in the AC. The Lord in the AC gives us latitude to disagree. In fact, He encourages us to do it, and to do it respectfully. It's something we need to learn how to do. Perhaps we won't be able to complete other tasks until we do. In this case, I respectfully disagree. It's the LDS church that throws you out or labels you for not sustaining or disagreeing. Let's not adopt that attitude. I find no value in it. We don't have to agree on all things, or have unanimous voting every time something needs to be adopted. Certainly, though, if you are looking for unanimous agreement, a good way to do that would be to label someone who disagrees as a "disputer" or to try to encourage people who disagree with you to not show up to a vote, so as to appear more unanimous that we really are. Feel absolutely free to call me a disputer. That is your free choice, but it would be an unrighteous judgement of my heart on your part. I do not dispute and will not dispute the inevitable adoption of the LOTS document and have no intention of leaving a movement or changing my relationship with you fine folk just because we disagree a little. But, I feel free to vote my conscience on Sunday. We've apparently come to different conclusions, and I'm comfortable with that. Comfortable enough to not make my comments on here anonymous. If your desire is to continue to label people who disagree with you as "disputers" in this movement, I'm afraid you may end up with a movement that only includes yourself.

      I seem to remember a story of when Joseph Smith held a vote with the church to kick out Sidney Rigdon (or maybe it was Oliver Cowdrey) from the First Presidency. The members voted to keep him in, thus voting against Joseph's decision. As I recall, that decision was not disputed, but Joseph allowed the majority vote to stand in that situation and Sidney stayed. This is a good example of disagreeing, but not disputing.

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    3. I think you are on to something Taggart, especially with the way the sustaining vote is worded.

      The initial vote was so long ago. I understand this process wasn't meant to be drawn out like this. But hypothetically, what if the body has changed its mind in that time frame and no longer sees the Lots document as a good idea, for whatever reason. If the overwhelming majority has had a chance to change their mind and votes not to sustain on Sunday, should the "no" voters be classified as disputers then? Or would those who voted "yes" be considered disputers?

      It is making sense to me that a person could be on record as a "no" vote yet not dispute the outcome of the sustaining vote and continue to work with the body to become of one heart and one mind. This whole thing is still rather confusing to me, but you are making sense.

      What Karen is saying also makes a lot of sense to me and as of now I plan to vote yes, but I don't think I'll automatically assume that a "no" vote means there is disputation (however the Lord might define it) going on.

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    4. Taggart,

      This is Anonymous September 28, 2018 at 1:00 AM. I wrote one more comment, but posted it in the wrong spot. It's much further below and is addressed to you. Sorry about that. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and having a small dialogue with me. I'm sorry I must be anonymous. It's just how things are in my life right now.

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  4. Sister Strong,
    I have no disagreement with you personally, in fact I do not think I have even met you. Your anguished cry touches my heart.
    You said the following:
    "I understand that we all wish that there was a perfect solution to this whole thing--something to happen that would suddenly allow us all to be on the same page and see this exactly the same way. I think we assume that this would be evidence that our hearts were finally right. "
    Perhaps this is exactly what the Lord had in mind when He said this G&S should be adopted "by mutual agreement".
    Your message talks about what the people in the groups think, want, have decided, don't want, don't agree on, etc.
    What about what the Lord wants?
    How many places in the scriptures are we counseled by holy men and by the Lord Himself to study the Lord's words, to feast on His words, to live by every word that comes from His mouth, and to not trust in the arm of flesh?
    Does that sound like an invitation to substitute our words, the words of men, for His words at our earliest opportunity?
    The real Guide and Standard for living, the one the Lord gave and commanded us to live by on penalty of not entering into the kingdom of Heaven, is found in His Sermons on the Mount and at Bountiful.
    How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him. (1 Kings 18:21)
    James Russell Uhl

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    1. Thanks James. No, I don't believe we have met, but I recognize your name. Perhaps we can be introduced at this conference if you are present.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I just differ in that I see ALL of the words of Christ---whether spoken by Him, or His chosen vessels---to be HIS words. Though the LDS Church messed up the meaning by applying it beyond Joseph, I still believe in the words we received by the Lord that declared "whether by mine own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same."

      For me, personally, I accept the words of Joseph and Denver, as delivered by the power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to be the words Christ has asked them to speak on His behalf to us. It does not trouble my conscience one bit to treat all these messages as coming from Christ. Heeding words inspired and authorized by Christ, though spoken by a mortal, is not what I believe the Lord means by trusting in the arm of flesh. We may as well just throw away all the scriptures except those quoting Christ while alive if that is the standard. Why make a covenant pertaining to the scriptures if none of them are relevant except the Sermon? Gee, why even make a covenant that was offered to you via a man---namely Denver---if you do not believe Christ can speak His word through a chosen mortal?

      Right now, I've been taking the last two months to go over the Sermon on the Mount with my children, one verse each day--- to elaborate upon in depth. I take Christ's directives there seriously.

      But it does not mean I cannot also take seriously the counsel and instructions the Lord gave regarding the restoration through Joseph, and in this new dispensation, through Denver---as needing my attention and obedience, too. Because I have committed to obey one set of words from the Lord (the Sermon), does not mean I cannot obey another set that was given at His instruction.

      It's just a matter of difference in how you and I see Christ being able to deliver His word---His voice alone, in person---or through revelation through chosen servants, too.

      I opt to give God as much latitude in speaking to me, as I believe He would want me to be open to. I LOVE having His word come through so many chosen vessels as appear in our scriptures. And I'm humbled to be alive when He is speaking profusely once again.

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  5. Karen,

    Many have claimed that their hearts were right. Many have also accused that others’ hearts weren’t. My heart has undergone massive changes throughout this process. And, besides, I like the new changes, displacing portions of my old heart with a better heart. However, none of this has yet produced a statement of principles that I can mutually agree with, including the lots. I’ll go ahead and blame my heart not yet being right as the culprit, and will continue to work until it is right. The only indicator of “right” being a statement of principles that I find mutually agreeable. I see no other way for my entrance into Zion than to make my heart right, producing as a byproduct mutual agreement. No one else can do that labor for me. So, excuse me as I do some open heart surgery, and continue to labor on the incomplete project, called my heart.

    I am convinced that more time is necessary for my heart to be right. I am willing to pay the price. Even if the price is to watch you leave in peace. I was a late bloomer when it came to baptism, late when it came to sacrament (that's a funny story), and late to fellowships. Each step was late because I hadn't yet been instructed by the voice of the Lord. But, when I heard that voice, nothing stood in my way of doing what I had been instructed. Since the first intimation to me of the spirit (on this project), I have not stopped laboring to accomplish the task. I am not tired and remain willing to continue to labor, undiscouraged, until that same spirit that initiated me in this task indicates to me that it is good, finished, and complete. Until then, I will continue to seek the garment of the laborer. I intend to try again and again, knowing that the Lord would not give any commandment save He prepare a way to accomplish it.

    While I do not believe that what the lots have produced is mutually agreeable to me, I do not see any impropriety in its participants or administrators. That was fair! And actually, I have learned something significant, as they have sought clarity and it was given. In my next attempt, I am going to spend more time seeking greater clarity for sure. I don’t oppose the lots effort, or their revelation to be done. It simply does not work for my mutual agreement.

    I agree that “Dances with Wolves” was a great podcast. Plenty enough information has been given within these last few weeks (Temple 1-6), sufficient to provide enough support to almost any argument, depending on the context we frame it in. You see a justification for lots, I hear King Follet discourse as the point at which we ought to pick up Joseph Smith’s baton, …and yet others may hear things about the role of women (something missed in all proposals). I value each of them, and yet am cornered into choosing one of them, and therefore cannot chose any of them.

    If a decision is to be made, and that is associated with cutting-off, I will decide to walk away in peace.

    Rob & Q Adolpho

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    1. Rob and Q,

      You have no idea how my heart leapt and a smile crossed my face when I saw your new name handle. "Calm Waters." Love it!!!

      I hear you on how this whole thing has done serious work upon the heart. The lessons and reflections are numerous. And I understand that despite those experiences you've had to this point; it has not resulted in a document you can currently accept. I appreciate that you center upon your own heart and seek to continue to focus on it. That is as it should be for all of us. I share you sentiments. It is a continual and immense concern for me. Every day I seem to be shown something I can do better. My thoughts, my words, my actions---are all only reflections of what is in my heart. I have not reached the required purity, for sure.

      I agree with you that time is required for all of us to have the type of hearts required for Zion. That is my ultimate desire and search, and I know we share this desire. You and I just see the purpose of the statement of principles assignment different. I see it as a light thing, a beginning baby-step, that could be accomplished with a heart that wasn't yet to the point of being "Zion worthy," but anxiously seeking to become such. It seems that your view is that the statement of principles assignment IS the means by which our hearts will become "Zion worthy" if we allow it the time required to get there.

      I am okay that we see this differently. And I think it is okay that we end up voting differently. Our different views are sincere, and from real intent and belief. I see our different views as no reason to separate us on this journey, as long as we continue to each realize our hearts are not yet where they must ultimately get, and keep striving.

      I intend to keep walking with you, seeking to wear the garment of the laborer along with you, in whatever manner the Lord requires of us. Constantly trying to repent. Hoping that the Lord continues to reveal my need for required heart surgery through additional experiences yet to come. Yes, I am okay laying this current assignment down, IF the Lord will accept our offering; because I just see the completion as being different than you do. BUT I also realize the pureness of your intent and desires to fulfill this assignment in the manner that resonates with you---and that this means you are not to the point of seeing it as complete.

      I love this entire paragraph:

      "While I do not believe that what the lots have produced is mutually agreeable to me, I do not see any impropriety in its participants or administrators. That was fair! And actually, I have learned something significant, as they have sought clarity and it was given. In my next attempt, I am going to spend more time seeking greater clarity for sure. I don’t oppose the lots effort, or their revelation to be done. It simply does not work for my mutual agreement."

      That's an expression of your feelings and perspective that I thought was honest, yet kindly worded. Thank you. I can fully accept that "It simply does not work for me," and am grateful our communication is able to be peaceful amidst a difference.

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    2. Part 2

      Thank you, also, for not discrediting my personal revelation regarding the Dances With Wolves podcast. It came at a very personal moment, in which I was praying about matters you and I have discussed, and what I should do in regards to all of this. It was a tender experience for me, and it shows great charity that you would allow me to have that personal revelation without finding fault with me or it.

      My brother and sister, no decision made this Sunday will be associated with cutting-off. Whatever happens may challenge us---either you, or I may have a result that will potentially cause us to go home feeling discouraged, or much worse for a time. But that challenge will be meant to be, IMO. It will be to see how deep we can dig into our hearts and souls and continue on as the Lord would have us do, and learn the lessons He still needs us to learn. I don't anticipate "going on" will be immediately easy for either one of us if the result ends up going contrary to how we personally hope. It will hurt. We've both labored tirelessly for what we believe we are being asked. For you, it will feel unbearable if this gets decided in favor of adoption. For me, it will feel unbearable if it is still left as an incomplete command that requires to begin all over. You are holding up better than I, as you do not feel tired. I am barely hanging on emotionally and mentally, and cannot bear the thought of another year like this past one. I wish I had your stamina. LOL Alas, it's been a rigorous 500 Level Course learning experience. LOL

      Anyway, I'm rambling on---but thank you for the manner in which you shared your feelings as we approach this weekend. I love you both!

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  6. I have an immense amount of love and gratitude for those who have labored faithfully and have put in countless hours in trying to Honor God in fulfilling this assignment. I have tried to follow most of the online dialogue over the many months/year since we have been asked to write a document to help, bless and inform others of things we have recently received from Him. While my opinion might differ greatly with some of you, I respect your viewpoint and choose to not dispute. Over a year ago I was present at the August 5th meeting where roughly 50 people attended with more listening online. During the meeting, there was opposition, anger, frustration, accusations, and wounded hearts. However in the end, we all gathered in a circle and prayed together. While we might still has opposing views.. we end up respecting one another and mutually agreed to not dispute.. It was a meeting that began as an intense battle but ended in peace. In some ways it was a miracle.
    Tonight begins the Utah Conference with the theme of Teaching your Children to Honor God. I am grateful for all the time and effort by those who organize these conferences on our behalf. At the very end of this conference a question will be asked on whether or not we want to adopt a statement of principles to be published in our scriptures. It has been an assignment given to each of us. How each of us have tried to fulfill that assignment has appeared at some times in opposition to each other. However, I believe His hands have been in this process all along even though we haven’t always seen it. I want to publically express my love to both Rob and Q Adolpho. A week ago today I stood on top of a mountain at sunrise with Rob and my other brothers. It was a beautiful experience to feel what it means to have reached a mutual agreement with them. It requires much labor and in the end it is worth it and it tastes sweet. I feel at peace knowing that each of us are trying to Honor God the best we know how.
    May we continue to choose to love each other despite our differences. May we come together this weekend in unity and love and celebrate the fact that the labor required from the Lord to each of us might be different but that we mutually agree that we are all Honoring God in a way that only He can judge.
    David

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  7. The answer to the prayer for the covenant makes it pretty clear the Lord thinks our hearts aren’t right and that we honor Him with our lips, so I will refrain from saying all is well in Zion, we “AS A PEOPLE” don’t have our hearts right,so enough of that. I have said nothing about the seven people or any person not having their hearts right, maybe they were for that assignment, maybe still are right before the Lord, only they know that. I think we would be hard pressed to find a revelation from the Lord to a people more blistering than the A-C. But the opportunity being offered is real and worth any rebuking or sacrifice or heart surgery.
    Also, to those who are stuck on the Sermons ant Bountiful and the Mount being our Guide and Standard.
    OF COURSE, WE WILL FAIL IF THEY ARE NOT A GUIDE AND STANDARD TO OUR DAILY LIVES. They must be, but so should the Doctrine of Christ and now for us The Answer and Covenant, they should all be a Guide and Standard for our lives as individuals and a people. And until we do as a “people” our hearts as a “people” are not going to be right before the Lord. That takes time.
    BUT, that in my view DOES NOT mean we “write” that as our Statement of Principles for those who don’t know of the work now underway.
    Two separate things, two separate requirements.

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  8. Sister Strong,
    Thank you for your reply.
    The Lord gave the world a perfect guide and standard for Christian living in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at Bountiful.
    He summed up His Guide and Standard by stating, "Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets." (3 Nephi 14:12)
    This is the Golden Rule, recognized all over the world as the perfect guide and standard for Christian living.
    If the goal is to inform those who know nothing of this work, what better way to inform than to let them know that this is our Guide and Standard?
    I do not question the validity of holy prophets' words, but why add them to the perfect standard given by the Lord?
    Is it offensive to the Lord to add the words of men, even holy men, to the perfect standard He gave?
    Could it be that the ongoing confusion and turmoil is a result of usurping our prerogative?
    Shouldn't a concise statement of the Lord's guide and standard for Christian living suffice as a guide and standard in the new scriptures?
    Why do so many feel compelled to add to the Lord's perfect guide and standard?
    Is it that they have invested so much work that they cannot lay it aside and accept the Lord's perfect words as superior to the words of any man?
    James Russell Uhl

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    1. James
      You keep calling the Sermons on the Mount and Bountiful a “Guide and Standard”. They are!
      However we were asked in the A-C to “write” a “Statement of Principles” to use as a guide and standard. We should have many guides and standards, including the Answer and Covenant and apparently a "Statement of Principles".

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    2. Dear James,

      As has been pointed out many times before, the Lord specifically said the purpose of the guide is to "bless, benefit and inform" those "who know nothing, as yet, of [the Lord's] work now underway.” We’re all well aware of this.

      The Sermons on the Mount and at Bountiful are the most perfect, and most vital statements about the character of Christ, and the character we must develop. I certainly agree with you there. But they have also been around for hundreds/thousands of years, and do not address anything at all unique to the Lord's work "now underway." This is not to disparage the Sermons in any way, but rather to point out that the Lord clearly gave us a responsibility that goes beyond simply pointing to something He taught 2,000 years ago, rather than writing what has been required.

      Pages have been written about the need to "write" and what that verb entails. Likewise, much has been said about the Lord's current doings that require instruction, beyond the Sermons, to bless, benefit and inform those who know nothing. (Some obvious topics with NEW REVELATION include priesthood, re-baptism, sacrament, fellowships, tithing, temple, new scriptures, servant, Zion.)

      Its VERY possible, in fact it's CERTAIN there will be (already are), within this movement, Christians who are very well familiar with the Sermon on the Mount, but who, as yet, know nothing concerning the Lord's work now under way. Are you simply going to hand them the Sermon on the Mount and tell them that's it? As if they didn't already know more about it than us? THEY should be teaching US about the Sermon on the Mount! As if this movement has nothing more to offer than any other standard Christian denomination? As if the Lord’s work “now underway” entails only that which *BILLIONS* of Christians already know and believe?

      How ridiculous! How offensive! Do we have nothing else to teach them? Nothing else of which they need to be informed?

      You've continued to make this same argument in favor of the Sermons over and over, as if repeating it will make it more valid. But you’ve failed to persuade me and many others. Rather than simply repeating the argument, you need to address its deficiencies.

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  9. The “rabbit hole” is, do we even know WHAT the Lord wanted in a “Statement of Principles”? I think we know and have what He wanted in replacing D&C section 20, which was the original assignment, we have that in the Lots document and others.
    BUT, apparently others are convinced we do know want it is the Lord wanted and have that in the Lots document. Maybe they are right, maybe they’re not!
    I’ve chosen to go along with my covenant neighbors on this as sign of unity!

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    1. My perfect world would be vote on the Lots doc as a D&C replacement and for the Lord to accept it as such and give our commitment to Him we would discuss further and seek His part on what it is He wants in a “Statement of Principles”. But apparently others feel time is too far spent for such a thing. I understand their view and will acquiesce to it.

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    2. I meant to say "replace D&C section 20" with the Lots document.

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    3. John,

      I appreciate the spirit with which you have chosen to approach this. I personally believe it is the approach the Lord is wanting to see if we could take---to "rather submit to the decision of the group than insist that my view be followed." I'm sure it has been a difficult struggle to come to that point, as you have weighed the matter deeply. Thank you for your humility.

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  10. Adrian,
    Yes, I have repeated the same argument, because it is obvious that you are not really listening, but instead are fixated on adding the words of men to the Lord's perfect standard.
    The Lord commanding that a statement of principle be "written" does not state nor even imply that something "new" must be created.
    It means to "write" in the new scriptures a Guide and Standard that we agree is our creed, our modus operandi, our way of living.
    As to informing...what other group anywhere in the world has taken the Lord's perfect Sermon and lived by it? Should we not aspire to live a higher law?
    I will present no other argument. I am hereby on record as disagreeing with any other Guide and Standard than the Sermon on the Mount/Sermon at Bountiful, which, as I have pointed out and quoted Denver Snuffer as saying, is the new, higher law of Christ.
    James Russell Uhl

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    1. James,

      I am really listening. I hear you. I understand your argument. I can accurately state it back to you. I simply disagree.

      If you only associate "really listening" with agreeing with you, it makes it quite simple for you to refuse to address the weaknesses in your argument, while shifting the blame to me.

      Though this may be a convenient approach for dealing with your cognitive dissonance, it only further weakens your proposal. It is an admission that you have no response to the issues I raised.

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  11. When designing a training program in anything it is appropriate and desired to identify the outcome of the training. The outcome is the thing that can be produced as a result of the training. Once the outcomes are identified, then we are able to suss out the objectives, which are what a person is enabled to do as a result of the training. Outcomes and Objectives are very different from each other. But we tend to conflate them all the time.

    What outcomes might the Lord have in training His people to change their hearts to be more Zion-like? Ultimately it would be a people who are of one heart, of one mind, and no poor among them. That's the thing that is intended to be produced.

    Might the objectives leading to that outcome look something like this:
    - Participants in this movement will be enabled to act appropriately in a Zion society.
    - Participants in this movement will be able to receive revelation from the Lord to guide their lives and choices.
    - Participants in this movement will will practice an expression of love that transcends our earthly experience and is all-encompassing.
    - Through a simulated earth-life experience, participants in this movement will learn how to combine varied hearts into one.
    - Participants in this movement will understand how to implement loving persuasion as the primary means to collectively introduce their minds to a higher order.

    You know, stuff like that.

    Once the objectives are identified, the normal training design process is to create exercises that result in the accomplishment of the objectives, which leads to the production of the outcome.

    What if the Lord, in His instructional design, has developed exercises for souls who desire to take the "higher knowledge course"? What would those exercises look like?

    I don't completely know the Lord's outcomes and objectives, and I can only guess at His exercises. But what if we're in the middle of one right now?

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  12. Part 2
    What if it was always part of the design to have participants with unique visions, varied expressions, and heart-felt testimonies?

    What if the point isn't in which document is chosen? What if it isn't in how the vote is being administered? What if it's not about getting the G&S into the published scriptures?

    What if this exercise is actually about teaching us, through experience, how to love each other? What better way is there to do that than to put a variety of differing, sometimes competing, viewpoints into the same "room" and telling them to find a thing called mutual understanding? (After all - isn't that what a family is?) What will result from that?

    Well, hurt feelings, damaged pride, a feeling of resentment and not being heard... those are all very real and appropriate possibilities along the way. But what will come of it? Heart-wrenching feelings? Kinder words? A willingness to be corrected? Greater humility? Previously unimaginable Godly Love for our sisters and brothers? The joining of hearts in the knowledge that none of us are anywhere close in our standing before our Lord and Savior? The absolute knowledge and acceptance that we are all equally and profoundly and desperately dependent upon His undying mercy?

    To me, that is what the Lord is persuading us to do. In my view this whole G&S effort, and the chastening we have thus far received, and all the hurt feelings, and all the concerned discussion... it's all about teaching us how to be one. And, therefore, the real sign of our success is in how much we distance ourselves from our pride and stubbornness, choosing instead a love and respect for each other that was otherwise unattainable.

    We should rejoice in the fact that the Lord put us in this lab together, for it is in our interactions with each other that we are actively in the process of learning how to qualify ourselves in purity. Anything else is not worthy of Zion.

    What a jaw-droppingly, mind-numblingly, gob-smackingly, audacious enterprise we've entered into! How beautiful! How wonderful! How great the opportunity to learn how to be one! Surely He is watching and cheering us on as we stumble about!

    It's absolutely breathtaking to witness. I personally can't wait and am in a state of full expectation that mutual agreement that we all so desire will be discovered the day after tomorrow. That is my prayer. That is my hope.

    What a thought - that we actually have a shot at joining our hearts into a Zion-inspired wholeness...

    Russell

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  13. Adrian,
    The Lord has stated that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
    He taught His Sermon as His recommended way of life to His followers in Palestine.
    He taught His Sermon as His recommended way of life to His followers in Bountiful.
    Today we teach marriage & family, tithing groups, belittling those who disagree with us, and majority rule as His recommended way of life?
    Sounds like LDS church redeaux.
    Cognitive dissonance?
    Good luck.
    JRU

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  14. Hi Adrian,
    Love you and appreciate everything you’ve shared and posted as well as everyone else here! If you’ll permit me, at the Covenant of Christ Conference, it was said:

    “The greatest instruction…to have been given by God at any time, to any generation, is a rule of community found in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Sermon at Bountiful. Now we have the Answer to the Prayer for Covenant, that not only resonates with the message of those two sermons but applies it [it – meaning the sermons on the Mount and at Bountiful] directly to us in our peculiar circumstances, to fix our peculiar defects and urges us to be more like Him.” (Covenant of Christ Conference Opening Remarks Egyptian Theater Boise, Idaho, September 3, 2017).

    The Answer to the Prayer for Covenant applies it [meaning the Sermons on the Mount and at Bountiful] directly to us, in our peculiar circumstances to fix us.

    I would humbly submit what our Lord taught 2,000 years ago is still very much applicable to us in our day and the ONLY way and hope we can become of one heart and one mind with HIM and then with each other. Yes, you’re right, the Lord’s Sermons have been around for a long time, but who truly understands and lives the Lord’s Sermons on the Mount and at Bountiful? I’ll be the first to admit to you and everyone else here that I don’t. Yes, although the Sermons have been around for a while, that does not necessarily mean most people have understood or lived the Lord’s Sermons.

    In the Covenant, the Lord told us to let His words be the standard of our faith. What does that mean?

    The Lord said:

    “The time is now far spent, therefore labor with me and do not forsake my covenant to perform it; study my words and let them be the standard for your faith and I will add thereto many treasures. Love one another and you will be mine, and I will preserve you, and raise you up, and abide with you forever.” (the Covenant of Christ Conference, the Covenant).

    The thing that really breaks my heart about all of this is that at a minimum I believe we ALL have mutual agreement on the Doctrine of Christ, the Lord’s Sermons on the Mount and at Bountiful and if this is the only thing we can all agree upon at this time, then let’s agree to that! It’s a start and I do not believe it is burying our talent in the ground either. On the contrary, it shows we trust and prize our Lord’s words more than anything else. I do not believe it is ridiculous, or offensive to others either.

    Christians who are not the only ones as yet, who know nothing concerning the Lord's work now under way. The Lord’s work transcends all groups of people. In the end, I believe the other sheep will coalesce around the words of our Lord more than anything else, especially when a group of people will live the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount and in Bountiful.

    Anyway, just my worthless .02 cents and I concede if I am in error on anything here. No intention to dispute or contend, but just felt strongly to share this. Love everyone here and pray continually for everyone! God bless you!

    Kind Regards,
    Josh

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  15. Taggart,

    It seems that “dispute” is a sensitive word to some. It seems to stir strong emotion, though I don’t think it needs to. May I share a few more ideas, in the hopes that it would allow a little more clarification.

    As you point out, the Lord goes out of His way to tell us we do not know how to disagree appropriately. It is expected and reasonable that we will disagree; but we need to learn to do so in His way. I see the entire effort, from the beginning to the point of finally having a document that is ready to be adopted by mutual agreement, as the time when all these differing views are to be discussed. This is time when we get practice in the principles of disagreeing respectfully shared in the Answer. If there were no final decision of mutual agreement that we were instructed by God to make; then such worthy discussions and disagreements could theoretically go on indefinitely, without any problem, in my mind. The Lord would not be offended, as long as we disagreed properly.

    But, in the specific situation of the statement of principles assignment, there’s a little added twist beyond the norm. Amidst all our permissible and appropriate disagreeing, He has asked us to ultimately get to the point that we actually DO decide upon one statement. A conclusion must come. On top of that, we have to do it in a very specific manner--- as a people, we have to “adopt it by mutual agreement.”

    The Lord’s specificity in what is required of us, is why the definition becomes so critical. He gives HIS very unique definition for mutual agreement. “As between on another, you choose to not dispute.”

    So what does He mean “choose to not dispute?” Most of us immediately think of the word “dispute” as contentious arguing, heated disagreement, fighting. Yes, those words can definitely be what is meant, and I’m sure He doesn’t want that. But there’s also a much more benign definition that I’d like us to consider, that may shed light on what we are being asked.

    The 1828 dictionary further defines “dispute” as “to reason or argue in opposition.”
    Since the word “or” is used in that definition, let’s make it even more benign. “To reason in opposition [to something].” Almost sounds like just disagreeing.

    Now stick with me. At first glance this will look like I’m contradicting exactly what the Lord said we could do (disagree peacefully). While we can and should do that in the months of discussions leading up to the conclusion of this assignment; when we have reached the point of needing to have a vote to determine adoption by mutual agreement---a whole new level of approaching the topic is being asked of us by the Lord’s own words.

    At the time of adoption by mutual agreement He ups the ante, and He is asking us to do something He was perfectly okay with previously. He now asks us “to choose to not dispute,” in regards to the selected statement of principles. In other words, “to choose to not continue to reason in opposition” of the group’s chosen statement.

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  16. Part 2 to Taggart:

    Is it possible that the reason the Lord gave us that precise definition of how He wanted our statement of principles to be adopted, was to kindly suggest to us that we would please Him if we use our agency to willfully choose to set aside our differing opinions (that had been respectfully discussed for months previously) and no longer give “reasoning in opposition” to those who seek adoption? Isn’t this exactly what the T&C Epigraph was trying to teach when it said it is preferable to submit to the decision of the group than insist that a view be followed? Is the Lord suggesting it is a noble and higher decision to join in mutual agreement, than continuing in our reasons to oppose? (Even if the reasons are fantastic). He didn’t say the reasons were bad, or that the reasons didn’t hold legitimacy---He just offered the idea that we could set those reasons for opposing (dispute) aside, and choose to no longer concern ourselves, or our brothers and sisters, with them.

    The vote this weekend is to allow each of us to manifest whether we support the adoption of the Lots statement of principles, or if we oppose it’s adoption. No matter what wording was chosen, that is the purpose, as that is what the completion of the assignment requires. Though I suggest mutual agreement is a higher way being offered for us to choose; to oppose is in NO way evil. No one I know, including myself, has ever asserted that taking a position in “opposition” will sever a person from the covenant, or cast them out, in any way. But it is imperative that people are clear on what they are actually saying when they choose to oppose the adoption by mutual agreement---to oppose something, IS to dispute it, by definition.

    I’m not saying God does not allow opposing views. I’m not saying He wants us to be robots like exist in the LDS Church where opposition is never manifest. Not at all. I am just explaining that in this assignment, for whatever reason, the Lord has wants to see if we desire, or who can, mutually agree---which means they willfully choose to set aside their potentially very good reasons for opposing.

    We get ourselves all emotionally charged about the word “dispute,” when perhaps we ought to step back and examine the reality of what it means and what we are being asked with a different lens.

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  17. Sorry, I didn't see this until this morning, so your attempt at persuasion, while appreciated, didn't have an effect on how I decided to vote. I also appreciate the discussion.
    My issue with how the word "dispute" is used has nothing to do with the Lord's definition or how he decides to use it, and has everything to do with how WE decide to use it. It seems to have become a word thrown out in the middle of a discussion as a trump card. "If you weren't such a "disputer" you would vote for the document that I prefer." So "dispute" can be used to silence discussion or press forward under the protection of the word "dispute." "Sorry, you aren't allowed to disagree with me because you would be disputing" and that is forbidden by the Lord." While I think it is a good thing to constantly check ourselves to ensure our dialogue stays friendly and cordial, discussion shouldn't be shut down and decisions shouldn't be forced through under the guise of pretending our hearts are right. This was supposed to be a "light thing." I shudder to imagine what it looks like when the next "thing" is not so light. The strong voices and those that aspire to lead will drown out the meek and those with the courage to voice a concern will be called "disputers" and will be silenced. Not saying that is happening or that it will, but let's throw out our pride for a second and realize that it CAN, unless we protect against it. There is no guarantee that this end-project will work out. We may have a document now that has been sustained by the majority of people, but it doesn't mean our hearts are right. It could just mean we are tired and want to move on. Is that enough for the Lord? Is he pleased enough with the result to give us our next task? I don't know. I have a sneaking suspicion that the next task will come and we may be unable to complete it because we never got our hearts right.

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Hey everyone,

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