Archive for March, 2019

March 29, 2019

Unpopular opinions

I hold two unpopular opinions on current events.

First, I think the prosecutor did the right thing in the Jussie Smollett case. I would like to see prosecutors dropping charges more frequently when the accused does not likely pose any future threat. We ought to be slower to accuse and quicker to forgive.

Second, I think Theresa May has done an admirable job. She has had to deal with two intractable beasts: the European Union and the U.K. Parliament, and her efforts to serve the U.K. are commendable. Her failure is more attributable to the foolish pride of self-centered, bickering politicians more interested in being right than in acting in the best interest of their constituency, than to any fault of her own.

I don’t know if I could convince anyone else that my opinions are right. I’m not really interested in pushing them onto others who disagree with me, and I certainly can’t persuade the majority to prefer mercy to condemnation and compromise to partisanship. So, in reality, the fact that I hold these two opinions doesn’t mean much in the world. But here they are, for whatever they’re worth.

March 28, 2019

Baghdad, continued

Continuing my discussion on the Baghdad sections of the Restoration scriptures, I want to continue looking at the statements under the assumption that Baghdad is a symbol representing the world, including the society in which we live. It has been written that a symbol is a “this” pointing to “that,” and we lose its value of we assume that “this” is in issue instead of “that.” Thus, if my understanding that Baghdad is a symbol in these texts, then we’re missing the point if we think that they mean a terrorist group taking over a city in Iraq will be the catalyst for the end of the world. On the other hand, there must be some relationship between the symbol and its meaning, and understanding that relationship would likely aid in understanding the text. Thus, there is value in thinking about the city in Iraq if we keep it in proper perspective.

It is worth considering again the latter part of the “Lamentation for Baghdad,” which reads: “Distress shall overtake them, for those who come shall have no pity.” Keeping in mind that Baghdad is a symbol, this suggests to the mind a comparison with Nephi’s reworded version of Malachi’s prophecy:

“For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall burn as stubble; for they that cometh shall burn them, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” T&C 1, JSH 3:4.

Could “those who come” in the lamentation be the same as “they that cometh” in Nephi’s version of Malachi’s prophecy? In the one, “those who come shall have no pity,” and in the other, “they that cometh shall burn them… that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Could the latter be properly described as having no pity? If they that come shall, by their nature, burn the proud and the wicked, and – even if they don’t desire to cause that suffering – they come anyway because the salvation of their family takes priority over the comfort of those whom they know not, would it not be accurate to say that they “have no pity” on the proud and the wicked? This certainly looks like a prophecy about a side effect of the establishment of Zion on the wicked in the last days.

With this in mind, I would suggest that it now becomes appropriate to consider the “this” part of the symbol. Could terrorist attacks on a city in Iraq be illustrative of the fear and danger on the proud and the wicked of the last days? Imagine the terror that a group like ISIS inflicts on the inhabitants of a city under siege. The suffering when the inhabitants are subjected to strict new laws that they are unaccustomed to following. Although ISIS is wholly evil, there is likely some analogy between the suffering under that kind of terror organization, and the suffering experienced by the proud and the wicked in the presence of holy beings. Of course, terrorists “have no pity” because they delight in cruelty, while the visitors to Zion “have no pity” because they are performing a mission and can’t help the fact that the proud and the wicked are unable to bear their presence. “This” is a symbol for “that” fit for a limited analogy, but they aren’t the same thing.

“Flee to Zion” indeed. These texts are admittedly somewhat frightening to me, who fits the description of “proud” and “wicked.” I find in them an urgent call to repentance.

The Baghdad texts in the Restoration Scriptures are certainly interesting. They seem like prophetic literature akin to what we find in the scriptures, with symbols and depth of meaning that can be extracted through study, prayer, and pondering. I hope Denver Snuffer won’t take offense at the fact that I am not inclined to credit him for this. I find his own writings helpful and clarifying most of the time, and at other times obtuse (perhaps because of excessive care in choosing his words), but not necessarily having the same qualities or fruitfulness upon continued examination as these or other texts that appear to be revelations. I consider this to be a sign of God’s work in the present day. Its existence should give hope to those who wish to commune with God in this life.

March 28, 2019

México y Venezuela

Un líder acepta responsabilidad por el bienestar de los que están debajo de su autoridad. Un gerente, particularmente un gerente incompetente, culpa a los demás por sus problemas. Gerentes no pueden mantener viva una organización. El mejor que un gerente hábil puede hacer es prolongar la marcha de la organización hacia su muerte, posponiéndola. La organización requiere verdaderas líderes para mantenerse viva.

Nicolas Maduro es un gerente incompetente y Venezuela está sufriendo las consecuencias. Maduro muestra sus atributos de gerente y no líder cuando culpa a los Estados Unidos por todos los problemas que Venezuela tiene. Es cierto que los Estados Unidos ha puesto sanciones económicas sobre Venezuela, y éstas no han ayudado a la economia venezolana. Pero eso no releve Maduro de su responsabilidad; con un gerente como él, el país tarde o temprano habría colapsado con o sin la ayuda de los Estados Unidos. (Por ejemplo, ha puesto sus amigos no cualificados en control de la extracción del petroleo y otras actividades importantes en el país. Como resultado, la producción de petroleo ha bajado muchísimo, y Venezuela ha quedado endeudado. Si no puede aceptar la responsabilidad que le corresponde, no es capaz de mejorar la situación de su país.)

Cuando vemos a Andrés Manuel López Obrador exigiendo que el resto del mundo pida disculpas a México, debemos preguntarnos si él no está mostrando los mismos atributos de gerente como Maduro. Por caracterizar las acciones pasadas de otros países como el fuente de los problemas actuales de México, está tratando de excusarse de la responsabilidad de proveer soluciones eficaces a aquellos problemas. Si no puede entregar lo que ha prometido a México – y comentadores han sugerido que es imposible, porque ha prometido proyectos costosos y a la vez bajar los impuestos – ya vemos que él se está preparando para echar la culpa a todos los demás.

México parece adorar a AMLO. Se ha entregado como nación a una idolatría. Tarde o temprano, cosecharán los resultados de su idolatría. Desafortunadamente, el futuro de México parece a Venezuela.

March 25, 2019

On Babylon, Baghdad, and Lamentations

The following entry is in the context of an interesting movement occurring within Mormonism, and for outsiders – including Latter-day Saints – it may appear confusing or nonsensical. If you stumble across it accidentally, please accept my apologies for bothering you with these strange curiosities. For those curious souls, I don’t have a link to a good background and summary of the movement, except perhaps the Prayer for Covenant and the Answer and Covenant in the movement’s scriptures (identified as “Restoration Scriptures” herein).

The Restoration Scriptures include two items that were originally short blog posts entitled “Babylon” and “Lamentation for Baghdad” on Denver Snuffer’s blog. Due to the brevity of these posts, I hope that Mr. Snuffer will not object to my inclusion of them in there entirety below, for ease of discussion.

The blog entry entitled “Babylon” was published on February 18, 2015, and recites: “The God of Heaven tells me all the world should pray that Baghdad does not fall.” It is also found as Section 168 of “Teachings and Commandments” in the Restoration Scriptures.

The entry entitled “Lamentation for Baghdad” was published on May 28, 2015, and recites: “Days of distress are upon Baghdad and the days of their troubles are begun. Distress shall overtake them, for those who come shall have no pity.” It is also found as Section 170 of “Teachings and Commandments.”

The covenant community seems to have taken interest in these two blog posts, as evidenced by their inclusion in the Restoration Scriptures. I, too, find them interesting, although I must admit that I also find them rather cryptic and wonder about their meaning. The only detailed discussion of which I am aware is an excellent analysis by Adrian Larsen, in which he discusses Baghdad and the region’s historic role, the terror group ISIS’s interest in it, and ISIS’s declaration of a caliphate.

Notwithstanding the excellence of Adrian’s analysis, my own consideration of the blog entries leaves me wondering if a fixation on Baghdad and ISIS tends to misleading conclusions about the meaning of these statements. I would certainly tend to look at the matter in the same literal fashion, but the title of the first post, connecting Baghdad with Babylon, suggests to me that the matter ought to be looked at a little differently. Admittedly, this raises more questions than answers, but the questions are what I wanted to raise in this post anyway.

Where I perhaps differ from Adrian is that without that title, I would have placed little emphasis on Baghdad’s proximity to Babylon. I have tended to consider them as separate, and thus never associated the two in any way other than geographic proximity. However, with the title “Babylon” appearing to equate the two, I am no longer inclined to think simply of “Baghdad” the city, or “Babylon” the city, but in terms of Babylon as used as a representation of the world in the scriptures. Such a perspective suggests it is not the fall, distress, and troubles of an Iraqi city that are at issue, but the fall, distress, and troubles of our own society. Our own “days of distress” are upon us, “and the days of [our] troubles are begun.” The ultimate message would seem to be: “flee to Zion.”

This raises several questions:

What does “Baghdad” mean in the statements? Is it the Iraqi city? Is it Babylon (the world)? Is it something else entirely?

Are the statements about us, rather than terror groups and inhabitants of Iraq?

What would it mean to pray that we, or the society in which we live, “does not fall?” What does this “fall” that we’re at risk of constitute, or look like? What, if anything beyond prayer, can be done to prevent or postpone it?

What are the distresses and troubles that are upon us?

Who is coming, who “shall have no pity?”

Why is “Baghdad” used, instead of some other city that we might better associate with modern-day Babylon, such as “Washington, D.C.,” “New York,” “London,” or “Brussels,” etc.?

I certainly wish I had answers. I am a terrible student of scripture, incompetent even to ask intelligent questions. The above are much more than I’d normally think to ask.

On the other hand, a Foreign Policy magazine article suggests that some remnants of ISIS are hanging out around Baghdad these days.