Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
"Ha," he said,
"I see that none has passed here
In a long time."
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."
So was Joseph Smith moved by the "holy spirit" to
transcribe (some say compose) his sacred books? I rather doubt it,
but my opinion is beside the point. Is John Paul II, moved by the
same Spirit? What about Stephen Crane? Mark Twain? What about the
Koran and the Torah and the I Ching? Does Kahlil Gibran speak Gods
words? Do Robert Frost and Walt Whitman? Can you not find the literal
spirit of God's love in the words of Arlo Guthrie or John Lennon or
Simon and Garfunkle? Or do you believe that God is selective about
which telephones He calls?
Why do you deny the notion that Atheists and Naturists do "God's
work"? Just because they are not listening, doesn't mean God
isn't talking. Do you read much about atheistic theology (other than
to find biblical conflicts to expound and exploit)? I rather doubt
it. Isaac Asimov did a wonderful lecture on how man's innate nature
can lead him to do good works (help the poor, feed the hungry) as a
societal celebration instead of a divine directive. He couched it all
in Darwinian terms. Did the Holy Spirit inspire Charles Darwin like
he did Moses and King David? Do you believe in evolution and natural
selection? I personally don't think that God cares one way or the
other how His will gets done on earth. Will an atheist be allowed
into heaven? If not, why not? Will a baptized sinner be forgiven by
the all-loving? Which sins? How can you be sure?
Jesus never told people to keep His stories secret. Nor did he place
bizarre roadblocks in their way to salvation. Praise God, love thy
neighbor, do not murder or covet. These were all pretty simple
lessons and the very heart of the lesson He tried to teach to us.
Do you believe that God spoke through Joseph Smith but not Langston
Hughes? Why? It would certainly be easier for me to accept that He
spoke equally through both, and easier yet to believe that both were
simply "good people" of "good character" with
"good morals" and "good motives", but neither was
a "living prophet". Does that mean they shouldn't be
followed? Does it mean they should be stoned, or burned at the stake,
or shot in cold blood? Of course not. God has given us a conscience,
and an intellect, and a spirit. He has dictated a way, and taught
simple lessons about life on this earth. Who is it that has tried so
hard to make the concept of eternal salvation so difficult to
achieve? It was certainly not Jesus.
I will tell you who has made it difficult: mankind. With the temporal
men who fancy themselves to be "living prophets" marching
at the front of that noisy parade. Those men that enjoy the perks and
privileges of being recognized as "chosen", but mere men
just the same.
It is these self-aggrandized, temporal men that have delineated for
the rest of us what is and is not in heaven, how many floors and
rooms are in the celestial mansions, which prayers and rituals must
be performed to achieve access to which particular eternal riches.
These are the same men that have invented and manipulated for their
own purpose the institution of a practical "Satan", (an
industry with a more astounding growth curve than Microsoft). Whether
or not there were fallen angels and ancient wars of souls with swords
(with an amazing resemblance to Norse mythology), the
"seeing" of Satan's power on each street corner, the
hearing of Satan's words in the voice of each naysayer is beyond the
wildest stretch of any biblical reference and an extremely convenient
method for the leaders of religious institutions to consolidate their
power. Of course, these pronouncers will swear that it was not their
voice, but the very word of God, that is spoken through their larynx.
It was a delight to read the account of Christian residents
organizing to oppose the construction of a Mormon temple in their
neighborhood. The "decent people" that worshipped Jesus at
Protestant churches stood about "casting out Satan and the
temple of his secret rites" while the "decent people"
that worshipped Jesus at Mormon wards and stake centers voiced the
opinion that "Satan was present and at work opposing their
progress". That is one hell of a neat trick, but well within the
prophetic pronouncements of what Satan is capable of achieving (and
all of it is nonsense). Choosing to believe or discard that claim is
something that each man must do within the privacy of their own
heart, but I say it is utter and complete balderdash invented to
exploit man's basest fears. And the men that invoke it should be
ashamed of themselves.