“All Is Well In Zion”: The Need for Tragic Optimism in Modern Mormonism

A few weeks ago, my Gospel Doctrine class was going over Old Testament Lesson #12: “Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction.” The lesson covers Joseph in Egypt after his imprisonment by Potiphar, his various dream interpretations, and his later reconciliation with his brothers. When discussing the dreams of the imprisoned baker and butler, a class member made the claim that these men had approached Joseph for interpretations because Joseph obviously “had the Spirit” and “was happy.” Nods of approval followed. Disturbed by this line of thought, I raised my hand and said that we do ourselves a disservice by assuming that the Spirit is always accompanied by happiness. This assumption often leads us to question our own spirituality whenever we feel down (i.e., “If I was righteous, I’d have the Spirit and therefore be happy!”). We shame ourselves and each other into thinking we have done something wrong. Not only does this mistake a normal (and healthy) emotion for sin, but it might prevent those suffering from more severe issues (e.g. depression, anxiety) from seeking help. I highly doubt that Joseph was happy about being in prison. However, I pointed out that there is a psychological difference between happiness and meaning.[1] Joseph continued to seek God’s hand both in success and misfortune. His search for meaning is demonstrated later when he says to his brothers, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today” (Gen. 50:20, NRSV).

This is why President Uchtdorf’s acknowledgement of this truth stood out to me in General Conference:

Being grateful in times of distress does not mean we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.

Award-winning playwright Mahonri Stewart had an excellent response to a New York Times article regarding Mormon optimism and great literature. Drawing on some of Mormon’s final thoughts in the concluding chapters of the Book of Mormon, Stewart writes,

Near the end of the Book of Mormon, the narrator, historian, and namesake of one of Mormonism’s most sacred texts, has just witnessed the downfall and near obliteration of his people. As he contemplates the carnage and the waste of potential in the multi-thousands of bodies he sees strewn across the landscape, he laments in a soliloquy worthy of a Shakespearean tragic hero:

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss. O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen! But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return… O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy. [Mormon 6:17-22]

For me, Mormon’s cry of anguish, “O ye fair ones…” is one of the Book of Mormon’s most memorable and haunting passages.[2]

Stewart continues, “I do think there are some uncomfortable truths in Oppenheimer’s article about Mormon culture. One of those truths is that as a culture we do seem to flock away from tragedy.” He notes that “we like to present ourselves in the best light possible, even if it verges on dishonesty. And it can be awfully destructive to those who don’t fit into the unrealistically peppy, idealized “norm” that Mormons are trying to achieve.” He states that there “is definitely a danger in misrepresenting our culture as infallibly happy, as the Little Engine Who Could.” Instead of confronting tragedy, we let “that pot simmer and boil, until the lid launches off, to a much more disastrous outcome.” It is time to recognize, concludes Stewart,

When our Heavenly Parents and our Lord Jesus Christ looked down at those of us who would become Mormons, to decide what kind of book they would give us, they did not decide to give us a comedy or even a romance. They gave us the Book of Mormon, the story of the downfall of a whole people. They gave us a tragedy.[3]

The Book of Mormon is too often removed from the context of its compilation (if one accepts its historicity). I often think of Mormon’s second epistle to Moroni (Moroni 9) and how it precedes the final chapter of the Book of Mormon. I reflect on the horrors witnessed by Mormon and Moroni. They have seen the evils of their people to the point that Mormon declares, “I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me” (Moroni 9:21). This was all they ever knew; just a constant state of war, destruction, and depravity. This was the context in which Mormon edited the records. It is this context that makes Mormon’s words in 9:25-26 all the more compelling:

My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.

And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen.

Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl

To me, this is what the late psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl calls “tragic optimism”: where “one is, and remains, optimistic in spite of the “tragic triad”…a triad which consists of those aspects of human existence which may be circumscribed by: (1) pain; (2) guilt; and (3) death.” It is saying “yes to life in spite of everything.”[4] This is “optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential which at its best always allows for: (1) turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better; and (3) deriving from life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action.”[5] But Frankl explains that this optimism cannot be forced and that the “pursuit of happiness” is better rendered as the pursuit of a reason to become happy. Yet, this is not an optimism born out of avoidance of tragedy or from cognitive cherry-picking of one’s situation. It comes from finding meaning among the chaos. “Once an individual’s search for a meaning is successful,” writes Frankl, “it not only renders him happy but also gives him the capability to cope with suffering.”[6] Frankl finds that “even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph.”[7] This requires us to engage the tragic. This means engaging not only our own suffering, but the suffering of others. “Once the meaning of suffering had been revealed to us,” Frankl recalls,

we refused to minimize or alleviate the camp’s tortures by ignoring them or harboring false illusions and entertaining artificial optimism. Suffering had become a task on which we did not want to turn our backs…There was plenty of suffering for us to get through. Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.[8]

An oft-quoted passage from the Book of Mormon is found in Mosiah 18. It is invoked as a description of baptismal covenants. Those entering the covenant “are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death…” (Mosiah 18:9). Unfortunately, we tend to skip the mourning and go straight to the comforting, which is interpreted as a kind of buck-up “they’re-in-a-better-place” pep talk. This may be comforting, but not to those who stand in need of it. It is a way for those who are not mourning to comfort themselves: an approach antithetical to what is found in scripture. Comfort comes to those suffering when you show the courage to mourn with them. Truly mourn. It rarely comes from talking about what we expect from life; from reciting the abstract “Plan of Happiness.” Instead, it comes from putting that plan into practice:

We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response.[9]

In a quote he attributes to Dostoevsky, Frankl writes, “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.”[10] When we ignore suffering or attempt to gloss over it, we hinder the progression of ourselves and others. We bury our ability to empathize. “Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.”[11] To engage suffering, to mourn with those who mourn, is to love. “The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”[12]

Tragic optimism provides a way for we Mormons to put away the constant (if unintended) “all is well in Zion” (2 Ne. 28:21) that often escapes our lips in the midst of suffering. Perhaps it will also help us avoid the consequences of these actions: “…and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”

 

NOTES

1. Roy F. Baumeister, Kathleen D. Vohs, Jennifer L. Aaker, Emily N. Garbinsky, “Some Key Differences Between a Happy Life and a Meaningful Life,” Journal of Positive Psychology 8:6 (2013): 505-516. See also Emily Esfahani Smith, “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy,” The Atlantic (Jan. 9, 2013): http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/; Jill Suttie, Jason Marsh, “Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?” Greater Good (Feb. 25, 2014): http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/happy_life_different_from_meaningful_life

2. Mahonri Stewart, “Behold, Ye Are Fallen: The Case for Mormon Tragedy,” Dawning of a Brighter Day (Nov. 19, 2013): http://blog.mormonletters.org/?p=6972

3. Ibid.

4. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, Revised and Updated (New York: Washington Square Press, 1984), 161.

5. Ibid., 162.

6. Ibid., 163.

7. Ibid., 170.

8. Ibid., 99-100.

9. Ibid., 98.

10. Ibid., 87.

11. Ibid., 88.

12. Ibid., 57.


Comments

“All Is Well In Zion”: The Need for Tragic Optimism in Modern Mormonism — 13 Comments

  1. When you referred to Mormon’s “search for meaning” at the end of the first paragraph, I thought, “this is going to be a Viktor Frankl post.” Called it!

  2. Walker, you are a great soul. And I was going to point out Brooks’s article too.

  3. Brilliant!

    I love that you captured so well the (non-Doctrinal) unspoken belief that The Spirit=Happiness. I guess it could be argued that for many people, feeling the Holy Ghost fosters faith in Christ and the hope and trust that eventually “all things will work together for their good.” This state of trust might be labeled happiness. However, the emotion of happiness is much more fleeting, temporary, and-frankly-deceptive. I believe that Alma was referring to the first, state-of-being type happiness rather than the emotion/feeling of happiness.

    Culturally we like to write off the positive emotions that can accompany sinful behavior as not really happiness. “It’s just pleasure,” we say. “Real happiness comes from keeping the commandments.” Then when someone keeps the commandments and doesn’t feel happier, they conclude that the message is wrong-or that they simply don’t fit the message. I wish we could more clearly explain that keeping the commandments sometimes brings fear, anger, sadness, and pain. These emotions are not in conflict with state-of-being happiness.

    I don’t believe that simply keeping the commandments brings the second kind of happiness. I do believe that keeping the commandments increases our probability of experiencing the the emotion of happiness as we move through life. However, that increased probability of happy emotions does not bring a corresponding decrease in the probability of experiencing sadness, fear, or anger.

    At the same time, I strongly believe that state-of-being happiness is only possible to the extent one is living in harmony with the light and knowledge that person has received. ANY failure to live up to that standard impairs capacity to be in a state of happiness. However, even the vilest of sinners can experience the emotion of happiness. The scriptures speak of men delighting in wickedness. Delight is a very positive emotion that the Lord himself experiences. But like any emotion, that happiness is temporary-if authentic. The state of that person is far from happiness.

  4. How to use your priesthood keys, signs and tokens
    Posted on April 20, 2014 by c j

    Greetings Brothers and Sisters and Priests and Priestesses of The Most High God!
    Come unto me, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief. It shall be manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you because of unbelief.
    Behold when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you…yea, believe in Him and He can show unto you all things..He endowed you with power…
    There were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things that they had beheld with;
    An eye of faith…

    The gospel of Jesus Christ; Speaking with Angels, and receiving instruction from them.

    As a descendant of Hagoth, Ougou was left to write the record of Mentinah when his brothers went to the Land Southward to teach the Nephites.

    66) Behold, this is My doctrine, and I shall show other doctrine to those who come unto Me. Yea, whoso cometh unto Me shall speak with the tongues of Angels for they shall see and converse with Angels and shall speak to them as one man speaks to another. Yea, this is My doctrine and there shall be no other doctrine of baptism given except to those with whom, in My own time, I do make my abode.

  5. 68) For who may abide the day of My visitation? Yea, ask and thou shalt receive. Come unto Me and I will come near unto thee and I will rebuke the devourer for thy sake. Yea, I have promised thee that if thou dost become mine, even as I am the Father’s, we shall make Our abode with thee. But who can abide Our presence? And who can withstand Our glory? For I am the refiner’s Fire and the fuller’s soap. Let there be soil in the ore, even a little, and I shall burn it up. Therefore, who may stand?

    Lorenzo Snow JD 26:378
    It will be recollected that this gospel message proposed to give us divine manifestations through our doing certain specified acts(priesthood keys tokens signs) in precisely the manor indicated. None but ourselves have attempted to conform to this arrangement consequently no other people are prepared to be witnesses… (seek the Lords presence)…that principle imparts knowledge or the rock of revelation upon which the Savior declared His People should be established. It is the people not exclusively that posses this knowledge, and boldly testify to its possession…

    My church is the church of the Firstborn. My only desire now is to meet with them. After they contacted me November 21, 2012 my whole life changed. The reason I’m writing this to you is to share the truth of their existence, if you are willing to set aside the time to begin communing with them; they will begin to manifest themselves to you in a multitude of ways…

    Every Sunday, I dedicated a sacrament meeting with them. At first I was all alone, until I could teach my family how we could meet with them together. Now we all belong to the Church of the Firstborn.
    We can’t always see them with our natural eyes, we can’t always hear them with our natural ears, but only our spiritual senses through the power of the Holy Ghost. That is the way it is with the spiritual. If you understand that you are always in Their presence…You will begin to see as you are seen and know as you are known. Let virtue garnish your thoughts and your confidence shall was strong in Their presence, and The Holy Ghost shall be thy scepter of righteousness…

    You have to have faith, and do the works, you have to believe. No mysteries are given to the unbelieving. The Lord said, and greater things than these will I manifest to them that believe and have faith in me!
    You have to desire and turn your hearts to them, and then they will turn their hearts to you and teach you all things pertaining to your salvation and exaltation; For the Glory of our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom.

    And the general assembly of the church of the Firstborn shall come down out of Heaven and posses the earth. The general assembly where my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life… This is our heavenly family church it is the church of the Firstborn. My only desire now is to meet with them. After they contacted me November 21, 2012 my whole life changed. The reason I’m writing this to you is to share the truth of their existence, and some of my experiences and dreams and visions…spiritual manifestations… if you are willing to set aside the time to begin communing with them; they will begin to manifest themselves to you in a multitude of ways…being taught from on high…

  6. Every Sunday, I dedicated a sacrament meeting with them. At first I was all alone, until I could teach my family how we could meet with them together. Now we all belong to the Church of the Firstborn.
    We can’t always see them with our natural eyes, we can’t always hear them with our natural ears, but through our spiritual senses through the power of the Holy Ghost. That is the way it is with the spiritual. You have to have faith, and do the works of Abraham you have to believe. No mysteries are given to the unbelieving. The Lord said, and greater things than these will I manifest to them that believe and have faith in me! You have to use your keys…
    You have to desire and turn your hearts to them, and then they will turn their hearts to you and teach you all things pertaining to your salvation and exaltation; For the Glory of our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom.
    And the general assembly of the church of the Firstborn shall come down out of Heaven and posses the earth. The general assembly is made up of just men and women made perfect in Christ. These are our ancestors that go all the way back to our first parents Adam and Eve. (See D&C 138) Many of them are Translated Beings. There are a few members on the Telestial earth.
    You have to worship, as Adam and Eve in the true order of prayer, and follow in their footsteps realizing you are entering a Terrestrial level, with angels and heavenly beings it is the only true and living church. You have to wait for further light and knowledge from Father…not listening to old wise men speaking their precepts mingled with scripture
    It is important to keep a family record of you meetings with the church of the firstborn. As Father Adam commanded to keep your Genealogies an Book of Remembrance some things can’t be written, but they will inspire you to write the things you can as moved upon by The Holy Ghost… The General Assembly is made up of just men and women made perfect in Christ. These are our ancestors that go all the way back to our first parents Adam and Eve. (See D&C 138) Many of them are Translated Beings. There are a few of us who are active members on the Telestial earth.
    Peter go down and introduce Adam and Eve into the Terrestrial World and instruct them in the true order of prayer. Why? So they can be taught by heavenly beings.
    You have to worship, realizing you are entering a Terrestrial level, with angels and heavenly beings it is the only true and living church.
    It is important to keep a family record of you meetings with the church of the
    firstborn. Some things can’t be written, but they will inspire you to write the things you can.
    The leap of faith for me, following the promptings of the Voice of the Master, to make my home a temple, a house of instruction, a school of prophets, where He could teach me and guide me, instead of the old safe path of following the old wise men or leaders and authorities of the church on the Telestial World. I’m following the Holy Spirit which is a contrary wind to the broad and wide path…it is a straight and narrow path and few there be who find it…
    The Temple instruction is going to rend the veil that was placed over your mind, you will be brought back into the knowledge of your primordial life, and the creation, which you also took part in. This knowledge will be brought back to your remembrance, through a drama that is acted out like a play, but the drama really takes place on an inner spiritual level and awakening, because you are a temple and the kingdom of God is in you.

  7. You can use any dedicated space, with your own family, to worship the Lord using your priesthood with keys, signs, and tokens. This path was given to our first parents, and was laid out before the foundations of the world, they worshiped outdoors in the wilderness…messengers are sent from Father…to bring us all back into the presence of The Lord, then He rends the veil, and brings us into the presence of The Father. Some would have you believe; that Peter brings you to the veil, and is whispering the instructions in your ear, but I would tell you that only Jesus Christ Himself, can bring you to the veil of the temple and introduce you back to The Father…No one will inter in only by Him, and through Him….He is “The Way”

    The Holy Ghost will quicken this record of heaven in you. This part of the “Endowment of Power” given to us by The Creator it will grow and deepen, and its
    inner meaning will develop as the years go by.
    We begin to realize that we need to personally use the priesthood with its signs and tokens in “The True Order of Prayer,” to have the heavens open to us, angels and heavenly beings to minister to us. We need to be humble, pure in heart and seek the face of the Lord and His commission for our lives. This is the rock of revelation, our sure knowledge, so that we may follow every word that proceeds forth from His mouth, and make our calling and election sure.

    The guidance of The Holy Ghost and the ministering of resurrected beings, translated beings, angels and spirits of just men and women made perfect (grandfather spirits and grandmother spirits our dead ancestors whom also have, or will have, or have had, these ordinances, and are waiting for their resurrected bodies, are the Church of the Firstborn, and the great assembly. Some of the members reside on this earth, and some reside in the world of spirits, the world of spirits which is all around us. They are not far from us, and know and understand our feelings and emotions and are often pained therewith.
    Others reside on Terrestrial Worlds or Celestial Worlds our Fathers House has many Mansions.

    We are in heavens view; they never sleep this is only part of mortality. All types of heavenly beings will visit you during prayers, deep thoughts, and scriptural study time, while you are performing a work for the Lord. Even while performing mundane chores that must be done, your mind is allowed ponder on celestial things. Jesus taught to never cease to pray in your heart. When you mind and hearts are in this state, they can relay messages to you or instructions, through that peculiar power of The Holy Ghost. In your dreams and in the early morning as you are just beginning to awake. Your mind in that state where the door is open between the conscious and unconscious mind. They can contact you in the day it’s a little more difficult to get rid of the distractions of a busy life.

    These are The Patriarchs of The Church of the Firstborn they are our grandfathers and grandmothers. Some are resurrected beings glorious and exalted, Gods who have received of the fullness of the Father through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, these were resurrected as part of Christ’s first fruits, and walked upon the earth for 40 days, and ministered unto many.

    This was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and 3 Nephi 23:9 some of His apostles, became translated beings in Jerusalem and in America, and are ministering to this day to the inhabitants of the earth (us the faithful followers of Christ). They are very interested in this mortal world of probation and testing, and of their progenitors. Their hearts are turned to us and our hearts need to turn to them, so the sealing power can have effect in us.

  8. The Lord begins to rend the veil in us from the bottom to the top, and introduces us back into the presence of The Father while in the flesh, not only when we have died and been resurrected, as some believe and teach, but also while we are sojourning in the flesh of mortality. The Father and The Son will take up Their Abode in us and with us, while in the flesh! It is indeed a powerful knowledge to possess again in mortality, and is “The Way” which we are introduced to, as part of The Terrestrial World.

    We are part of the Terrestrial world, when we use the signs and tokens around our family altars in the true order of prayer like Father Adam and Mother Eve taught us in the temple endowment…and begin communing on high.
    Always seeking further light and knowledge from the Father by using our tokens given to us by apostles of Jesus Christ, (Peter, James and John), and using them to secure the fullness of blessings, which have been prepared for The Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of The Elohim and The Eternal Worlds.

    Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith page 325. Angels and Spirits;
    I assure the saints that truth in reference to the matter of angels and spirits can be made known to them through the revelations of God in the way of His ordinances. D&C 84: 20-24
    19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
    20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
    21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.
    22 For without this no man can see the face of God even the Father and live.

    The Hebrew church came unto just men made perfect, and unto an innumerable company of angels, unto God the Father of All and to Jesus Christ the mediator of the new covenant. What did they learn by coming to the spirits of just men made perfect? Is it written? No. What they learned could not have been written. What object is gained by this communication with the spirits of the just?

    If we follow this path that was given to the first man and first woman, Adam and Eve our first parents in mortality. The temple, also known as the school of the prophets, the house of revelation, the house of prayer, a house of learning, a house of faith, a house of glory. This is His House, where The Son of Man may come to dwell, know ye not that ye are the temples of the Lord? He may come and dwell in you? You are the temple built by His Hands seek ye out of the best books, words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and by faith, all things that pertain unto

    The Kingdom of God or The Celestial Kingdom, we are to Seek His Face and guidance. He is The Second Comforter which is sealed in you by the Holy Spirit of Promise (Holy Ghost) unto the glory of The Church of the Firstborn, even of God the Father, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ His Son…

    Through your faith, repentance, and baptism you are born again into the Kingdom of God, and the Church of the Firstborn, in Heaven…That’s where your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! You have taken upon you Jesus Christ and he only can take you back to The Father…

    Now you have come up to an innumerable company of angels, and heavenly beings…They are very, very interested in your progress…They are your eternal family…

    The Gods, because many have entered their exaltation, their graves were opened and they walked on the earth ministering unto many for forty days. These are Christ’s He being the First fruit

    How will you receive Angels and Messengers from Heavenly Father?

  9. How to use your Endowment of Power
    Posted on April 24, 2014 by c j

    Dear Brothers and Sisters consider yourselves Adam and Eve,

    Adam and Eve…we are brought back into the Lord’s Presence…
    By using your priesthood keys-signs-tokens-

    These next pages are some of my journal writings, from various sources. That helped me move along rapidly in my progression. They are treasures and I will share them with you…
    Even if you have the keys they will not work until your heart and hands are pure.

    Ether 6:17 and they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.

    Follow the Spirit…He will lead you to All Truth…The Order of Heaven…
    Rend the veil of unbelief, and then shall the greater things be manifest…
    All the Saints of God…The Sons and Daughters of God…Belong to the Church of the Firstborn…Access to heavenly messengers… and Jesus Christ Himself…

    Doing what Adam and Eve did…
    Adam: Let us do as we were commanded and seek the face of the Creator. We will take of this world, limbs, skins and stones, and we will build a place wherein we may seek His face.
    10) Eve: It is good that we act upon the commandments we have been given.

    11) Narrator: Adam took tree limbs, animal skins and stones and built a place where he and Eve could pray. And when they went down into the place and offered up their thanks for everything that they had learned,

    How to use your Endowment of Power…Follow the footsteps of Adam and Eve, they began to be visited by Heavenly spirit beings. Every day they were visited by different instructors. And Adam built an altar and offered an oblation to the Lord.

    12) Adam: Oh God! Hear the words of my mouth! Oh Father! Hear the words that I am praying! Oh Lord! Can You hear the words of my prayer?

    13) Angel of the Lord: Why do you offer sacrifice at this altar?

    14) Adam: I know not, save that I was commanded to do so.

    15) Angel of the Lord: That which you shall do in this place and upon this altar is in accordance with the Law of the Gospel. You shall offer sacrifice here that shall be in the likeness and similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of the Father. It is good that you are obedient to the commands of your Lord.

  10. 16) Narrator: And when Adam offered his oblation unto the Lord, Satan was also attracted by the commotion. He appears as a wise old man.

    17) Satan: What is wanted?

    18) Adam: I am praying for messengers from my Father.

    19) Satan: Oh, you want religion. What you need is good, sound religion. I will have preachers come and teach religion to you by and by. Listen to them, for they are wise like me.

    20) Narrator: The old man stayed with Adam and Eve for many years and he taught them all of the ways of men.

    We have to prepare our hearts and minds to receive instructions from the angels and heavenly messengers the Lord sends…When we have our home altar prepared…The Law of the Gospel, we have to have an altar and a place set apart and made holy…just like our first parents…

    Satan will tell you another plan…listen to wise old men and learn religion.

    The family altar has been removed from LDS instruction…

    Before 1978 (1), prayer circles were held outside of the temple, with many Stake Centers having altars that adjoined the High Council room. Extra-temple prayer circles can be traced back to their foundations in Nauvoo. George Albert Smith preached in the completed Temple in 1845:

    When we come together * * and unite our hearts and act as one mind, the Lord will hear us and will answer our prayers…Said that whenever they could get an opportunity they retired to the wilderness or to an upper room, they did so * * * and were always answered. It would be a good thing for us * * every day and pray to God in private circles.

    It is, perhaps, from this focus on the quotidian ritual that a fixture emerged among the saints that is generally forgotten: the family altar. The idea of walking into somebody’s house who is Mormon and seeing an altar in their living room borders on the absurd or apostate. However, for the Saints of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the family altar was consistently preached from the pulpit and in Church periodicals (3).

    Joseph F. Smith preached in 1881:
    …it is absolutely necessary that the Latter-day Saints should come together in the family capacity, and kneeling around the family altar, call upon God for his blessings morning and evening. And they need not confine themselves to morning and evening prayer, for it is their privilege to enter into their closets and call upon Him in secret, that He might reward them openly.

    Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal Brigham Young’s understanding of the family altar:
    I attended the prayer meeting in the evening. President Young said the family Altar was the same as an Altar in the prayer Circle. It is for parents and Children to Join hands over the Altar and pray.
    Now, I am sanguine that there are many who call themselves Latter-day Saints, who have neglected their duty in this respect, and many a son is permitted to grow to manhood, whose father has never asked him to bow with them at the family altar. This is a serious neglect upon the part of those who have named the name of Jesus, who have come up to these mountains to be taught in the ways of the Lord.

    Needing to be taught from on high….following in the foot steps of our first parents Adam and Eve….

  11. Lastly, in 1905, Elder Hyrum Smith promoted the use of the family altar as a means of spiritual self sufficiency:
    We ought not to complain if our stake conferences come and go and we do not have in our midst one of the brethren known as the authorities of the Church…You should not feel to complain, even though one of the Twelve, or the First Council of Seventy, or even the First Presidency, find it impossible to be with you.

    You should read the word of the Lord from the books, and kneeling down around the family altar, you should commune with the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, judgment and enlightenment. You should depend more upon Him and less than some of us do upon those who constitute the authorities of the church.

    On May 3, 1978, the First Presidency announced that all prayer circles outside the temple were to be discontinued.

    Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith pg.237
    …Setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days (Adam) and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure those plans and principles, by which anyone is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of the Elohim in the eternal worlds…

    Keys must be used to obtain the fullness of blessings, and a sure word of prophecy…
    Page 326 (TPJS)
    I anointed him to the patriarchal power—to receive the keys of knowledge and power, by revelation to himself…

    Adam and Eve prayed in the true order of prayer use their signs and tokens—knowledge and power…We need to do the same thing… Moses 5: 4, 10

    4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from (the way) toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.

    10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

    The use of the signs, and tokens (TPJS)
    The Father desires all to come back in His Presence…
    These same keys of communications were given to us in the endowment

    TPJS pg.237 with these keys the latter-day saints are able to approach God in the proper manor and learn to commune with heaven these keys, where by an individual may ask and receive an answer, all who receive their endowments receive the keys of the priesthood…which are the signs and tokens used in prayer…with these keys we are enable to commune with the heavens, and the Church of the Firstborn…

    How are you going to receive Heavenly Messengers?
    And be introduced into the Terrestrial World… 

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