THE ZION SOCIETY, Part One
A Wonderful Ideal
I spent 20 years being an active Mormon during the years 1958-1978. Then the church discovered that I thought that the prophet was not infallible, as I disagreed with him on a point of doctrine, and they immediately threw me out. I was glad to go as the great repetition of simple ideas in church was becoming increasingly boring and a waste of time. My only regret was the effect it had on my family as my wife at the time stayed a true blue Mormon.
My membership though was not a waste of time as I took away from the church an important teaching emphasizing a beautiful ideal – that of Zion.
The concept of Zion did not originate with Mormonism, but was greatly enhanced by it. Among the Jews, Zion was synonymous with Jerusalem or Israel and prophecy speaks of a time that it will be reestablished with power and unity.
In Mormonism Zion is presented as a gathering of the pure in heart who will live together in unity, love and equality having “no poor among them.”
Since the days of Joseph Smith numerous attempts have been made by the church and breakoffs to create a Zion Society and each time they have failed.
And why have they failed?
Basically for the same reason pure communism has failed. It turns out that most individuals are motivated to seek for their self-interest, which creates unequal status which can only be countered by strong authority. Strong authority thus surfaces to enforce equality. This evolves into a situation that is less equal and a more pronounced class difference than laissez faire capitalism.
You wind up with a small authoritative class that controls and gives orders to the submissive class. Then when the authoritative class realizes that it has been given a blank check to do what they want they reward themselves with as much luxury and perks as the system can bear.
Thus the ideal of the classless society evolves into a great duality of class beyond anything envisioned.
In spite of failures many thinkers have contemplated how to create this ideal society that was envisioned. After all, there are indeed many who would like to live in a society where brotherly love and equality dominate, including myself. Many efforts to create such a society began with good intentions, but eventually turned into a tyranny.
Because human nature does not gravitate toward the equality of sameness, as they see themselves as distinct human beings. Even the greatest supporters of equality see themselves and their needs as being different from their neighbors.
Because of this basic human trait any flawed goal toward equality will evolve into the two classes I mentioned. The movement grows to the few at the top who control with tyrannical powers, and the rank and file who must obey or be punished.
Does this mean that the idea of equality, sharing and brotherly love is a flawed idea that needs to be discarded?
Indeed not, as in the end the good that is in humanity always prevails, but only after much pain and learning through trial and error.
To move humankind to their next step in societal evolution we must look at the next level to be achieved in realistic terms. Anyone who expects all participants to always be willing to work and share instinctively when they need benefits for themselves is living in illusion.
Any step toward a Zion Society has to factor in human weakness into the equation. Also the idea of equality needs to be defined. Are we talking about sameness, equal rights or something else?
Above all, we want to avoid a tyranny. How can we do this?
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Two
Problems with Utopia
Zion is basically a vision of a utopia, the ideal society, where all have their needs met and people live in unity, equality and brotherly love. The actual word though is traced back to, the original Jerusalem, the city of David, which was far from a utopia, often fighting wars of survival or conquest and far from an ideal unity, suffering from regular insurrections and hostility.
Its flawed beginnings did not hinder the prophets from dreaming of a time of a perfected Zion. For instance, Isaiah said:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”
Beautiful words indeed, especially the part of seeing eye to eye. Such unity and harmony has been the dream of many besides the LDS clear back to the days of Socrates. Since then, many have attempted utopia, some based on scripture and some on other ideas. There have been hundreds of experiments ranging from communist societies and states to hippie communes, to religious groups – all seeking equality, union and all things in common.
The communists expressed a catchy ideal that was thought to be workable:
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
The citizens embraced the “needs” part, but were not that cooperative with the “according to his ability” part. When one saw his neighbor not doing his share then the individual asked himself, “Why should I work extra hard to support that lazy guy?” The greatest communist enterprise, the Soviet Union, thus fell apart through lack of cooperation and incentive from the lowly citizen.
Communist China under Mao had similar problems with millions of people dying of starvation. Their salvation has been in making a switch to a more capitalistic approach. Now they have their own capitalistic billionaires and are in some ways more capitalistic than the United States. They have at least taken their people to a higher level of prosperity.
On the other hand, North Korea tried to stay true to the communist ideal and the result is that you have a nation with the people starving, often resorting to eating tree bark, grass or even dirt to survive.
The only thing close to the Zion ideal that has prospered over a substantial period of time are the Amish and related groups. They do not exactly have all things in common as each person is over his own business or enterprise, but they are expected to share so no one goes without. They have achieved the desirable goal of having no poor among them. Their survival can be attributed to the fact that each has a certain amount of freedom over his own stewardship, goods and money, but the rules and restrictions are so great that few from modern society would have any attraction to the limited living conditions.
Each member has to give up all modern technology (with a small handful of exceptions). Your home would have no electricity, no phone, no internet, no modern appliances. You would be told how to dress, when to grow a beard, and have to make all your own clothes according to specifications. Basically all the elements of your life would be rigidly controlled.
There are a number of communal groups, including some breakoffs from the Mormon Church, who have maintained their organization for a period of time, but all of them suffer from rigid control by strong authority and offer little hope for a happy life.
On the other hand, most who dream of Zion, do not visualize themselves living a life in the dark ages before electricity with every aspect of their lives controlled by excessive rules and regulations.
The question any visionary must ask is what are the principles that can be followed that will create a definite Zion society?
Before we answer that question maybe we should first look at what does not work. There is no example of any substance on the planet we can point to of a Zion society that one can join that does work, but there are plenty of examples in history of failures.
(1) The main reason for failure is that a strong outer authority controls the rank and file members. Such an authority often claims to be the voice of God on the earth and, if such is believed, the member will be extremely fearful of doing anything contrary to commandments given out.
Outer authority, which takes the place of God speaking to the individual, is the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast in the forehead is control of the mind and the mark in the right hand is control of the labor of the participants. Thus all but a few currently have the mark of the beast as most allow outer authority precedence over the inner.
(2) Leaving it up to God. Many just “wait upon the Lord” and if they do act it is because someone tells them that they speak for God or interpret the scriptures correctly and they must be followed. Because of such claims corrections are often not made because that would be admitting that God is fallible.
(3) Waiting for some perfect plan. A Zion society will not just manifest in perfection but must be ironed out in the process of fallible human endeavor. God is not going to come down and lay it out for us in black and white.
Because we learn by doing. If humanity uses their minds and intelligence to create Zion then it will become a permanent fixture, but if someone just gives it to us on a silver platter it will be a temporary thing no matter how perfect the blueprint is.
The scriptures give us some of the ideals that will compose a Zion society, but is lacking in supplying most of the details. The end is given, but not the means.
This scripture explains it well:
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
“Verily, I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.” D&C 58:27-28
So, if strong outer authority that takes precedent over the inner voice of the Spirit to the individual is a prime cause of failure then how are we to proceed? Should we recognize no outer authorities then?
If too many rules suffocate should we have no rules?
If too much hierarchy interferes should we have no hierarchy and no recognized leaders?
Or is there a point of balance somewhere in between?
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Three
The Prime Directive
There is one decisive principle that, when applied, will make things work efficiently, and when not applied dooms a work to failure.
This is the Principle of Freedom.
The problem with this principle is that many have different ideas as to what freedom is, but they are basically divided into two camps which I will label the light and dark side.
The Dark Side:
A person in this group will see freedom from his individual perspective or at best freedom for the group to which he belongs. If the majority have to suffer a loss of freedom or even slavery so his minority will have what they want so be it. His idea of freedom is enhanced.
Example: The Southern States fought for the extra freedom a minority received from owning slaves and benefitting from slave labor. Abraham Lincoln contemplated this idea of freedom and was amazed that the whole Confederate nation could stand behind it.
The Light Side:
A person in this group will value the freedom of all individuals everywhere. JFK said it well: “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
The true principle of freedom can be summed up as follows:
“It is the removal of restrictions either imaginary or real, so the power of decision has complete freedom within the sphere of its plan. Thus the true principle of freedom lies in the idea that the spiritual energy to accomplish is released so its life can flow through the ideas and thoughts of the individual until all positive desires are fulfilled.”
The true principle of freedom is not created by anarchy where all are free to do whatever they want with no restrictions. Such anarchy is counter to freedom and creates mob rule where tyranny is the end result negating freedom. A certain amount of law is necessary to maintain maximum freedom, but excessive law and regulations suppresses freedom. Thus the quality of good judgment must come into play for too great of a shift to the right or the left takes freedom away.
For example: We do not want the burglar to have the freedom to enter our homes and take what he wants. In this case the burglar’s extra freedom greatly diminishes the freedom of others. The net effect is that the loss of freedom without appropriate law is much greater than the freedom granted to the burglar.
Thus the Principle of Freedom supports the idea of maximum freedom for the whole rather than total freedom without law, or a state of anarchy.
How does this apply to the creation of a Zion Society?
The Principle of Freedom must be the prime directive in the creation of any benevolent, productive society, especially anything claiming to be constructed on the principles of Zion.
Without maximum freedom the people will be denied a fullness of happiness and joy. With it all things are possible and the true pursuit of happiness becomes reality.
We conclude then that true freedom, which is a state of maximum freedom, is found at some point between the two extremes. That point cannot be found by any mathematical equation, but is only discovered through unbiased judgment followed by experimentation and then by fine-tuning corrections.
When someone with great authority proclaims an exact path that must be followed and allows for no correction, because of supposed infallibility, disaster is always the result. No great work is ever completed without many corrections being made. Just like you cannot even drive a city block without making many corrections with the steering wheel, neither can the laborers in the vineyard of the Lord create a work of beauty unless they are allowed to make corrections as they go.
As with the Principle of Freedom, even so with correction; judgment must be applied. The correction should not distract from the original inspired purpose but should steer the workers more correctly to the straight and narrow path.
Good judgment and common sense must be applied to building Zion just as it is in creating a work of art.
Both extremes, or a lack of freedom, will prevent the manifestation of the good, the beautiful and the true. Let us choose this day where we will stand.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Four
Defining Zion Qualities
We have established that Zion must be built upon the Principle of Freedom. Unless maximum freedom for all is incorporated them maximum pursuit of happiness cannot be a reality. If there is not a goal of happiness and fullness of joy available then the society would not be Zion. Conditions in Zion must be conducive to happiness.
So, what do the scriptures tell us for sure about Zion, a condition where people will dwell together in peace and happiness? This scripture sums it up in a sentence:
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Moses 7:18
In addition to this the scriptures stress equality and sharing as important ingredients:
“Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.” D&C 70:14
“For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things.” D&C 78:6
The main ingredients composing Zion seem to be:
(1) There are no poor among them for they dwell in a state of equality.
(2) Being of one heart and mind, or seeing eye to eye.
(3) They dwell in righteousness.
(4) They will gather and build the New Jerusalem – the city of Zion.
“and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” Moses 7:62
(5) Just government. There has to be a competent government over the people. The exact form is not specified in the scriptures, but we can assume it must be fair and allow the principle of freedom to prevail while maintaining civil order.
Let us examine these five components starting with:
“There are no poor among them for they dwell in a state of equality.
There is a lot of discussion among thinkers about how far people of good will should go with the principle of equality. Some think having equal rights and opportunity under the law should be as far as we should go and others think we should go even further than the communists and have all people, small and great, yield up all their possessions for the people to have in common.
Then others think the point of truth is somewhere in between.
The scriptures stress equality, but do not give us much detail on exactly what this means or how it is to be accomplished. This is where our own thinking comes in to fill in the blanks since we should think for ourselves as much as possible and not have to be commanded in all things.
First let us look at what is agreed upon by most spiritual thinkers concerning equality.
(1) It is basically agreed that there should be equality of opportunity under the law. The law, government and authorities therein should not favor one class, group or race above that of another.
(2) The great gap in possessions between the rich and poor and management and labor is detrimental to the spiritual health of the whole.
(3) Leaders should not have special privileges that sets them apart from their followers as special beings deserving much more than the rank and file.
(4) Leaders need checks upon them so they do not turn into dictators or tyrants.
(5) No matter how great one’s accomplishments may be he or she should avoid an attitude of superiority, maintaining the realization that we all have unlimited potential.
In addition, there are several points generally agreed upon that spiritual equality is not:
(1) Equality does not mean sameness.
(2) We are all unique individuals, each one different from any other human alive. We are not equal in intelligence, talents and abilities.
(3) Each person is different in the amount of labor and intelligence he applies to his goals and will produce different results.
And what are the major points of disagreement?
(1) How far we go in pushing the idea of equality toward sameness.
(2) How much authority and force should be applied to see that participants conform to any established idea of equality?
(3) Lacking a unifying messianic figure as a leader how should we proceed toward establishing Zion principles? Or should not take any initiative?
In the end if we lack specific agreed upon revelation from on high we must proceed with the highest we know and all individuals involved must check with the Holy Spirit of Truth within them to gain assurance that we are headed the right general direction.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Five
What is Equality?
Just like the spiritual principle of freedom does not give absolute freedom, neither does the spiritual principle of equality insist on absolute equality. For instance, the desired goal of maximum freedom for all does not allow anyone the freedom to rape, pillage and plunder fellow men and women.
The same principle applies to equality. We do not seek absolute sameness. Instead, the goal is maximum possible equality for all while applying the prime directive of maximum freedom.
It is said that the War in Heaven was fought over free will. The adversary wanted to reach the ideal by forcing us to do right, which was rejected by God in favor of a plan offering free will, even though that would result in numerous mistakes along the way.
This war over free will continues to this day and thus the Principle of Freedom is the prime directive for the forces of Light and Love and must be taken into consideration in any step toward the creation of Zion.
We see the results of these two ideas manifesting on the earth. The side against free will operates through tyrannies, cults and authoritarian groups controlled by strong leaders who insist all thinking and decisions be made by an elite group who know what is best for the rank and file.
On the other side, we have countries with at least a degree of freedom that allow their citizens some freedom of choice in reaching goals. At present, the Principle of Freedom is not dominating, but this must be changed so when Zion is established the free will of humanity will reign supreme and demonstrate the power of freedom over slavery of the human mind.
So then, taking into consideration the Prime Directive of maximum freedom and equality let us define the Principle of Equality.
True spiritual equality is not sameness for sameness can only be the result of tyranny that negates the Principle of Freedom. True equality consists of the following.
(1) Equal opportunity under the law. There should be no restriction under law or authoritarian decree that limits access or achievement of any individual, group or class of people.
This will not result in sameness of opportunity because those governed by the Principle of Freedom will differ in circumstances and mental state which will result in advantages or disadvantages creating different outcomes.
(2) Acquire the mindset that supports abundance for all and sharing rather than forcing the rich to give their wealth away.
Every time wealth has been taken by force with the idea of redistribution disaster has been the result.
One of the prime examples of this failure occurred when Pol Pot took over Cambodia in the Seventies. He was a big believer in equality by sameness and mandated that all people have all things in common including property, dress, communal meals with all capitalism forbidden. He even tried to eliminate cash and killed those who even smelled like an upper class.
As a result millions died through starvation and extermination.
Thus one of the most aggressive attempts at forced equality was also one of the greatest failures in history.
Instead of attempting to force the rich to share the key is to teach the principle of free will sharing while providing opportunity for the poor to achieve abundance.
Studies show that an increase in money does result in an increase in happiness until the point is reached where basic needs are met. After this point additional wealth makes little difference to happiness.
Therefore, if the inhabitants of Zion through free will create a situation where the basic needs of all are met the foundation will be laid to establish a society where maximum happiness becomes possible.
A huge problem created by inequality of the deprived poor compared to the rich is that many of the poor who are going without or having difficulty paying their bills focus on the differences in outcome. On the other hand, the focus of one who has his needs met tend to be away from the material differences and other goals in mind. Creating a situation where basic needs are met will take us more than halfway to the goal of seeing ourselves as equal participants rather than on the outside looking in.
(3) Teach correct principles so equality can manifest through free will sharing. Many who are rich are presently willing to donate to a hospital, library or college if they are willing to put their name on a building or room. In Zion we do not want to feed the ego, but what if the rich were to realize an even greater feeling of worth through using their wealth to assist in the building of Zion or just in helping others there. People tune into the public consciousness and if our values change the motive for sharing will also shift.
So, what would equality look like in the ideal Zion society? There would not be sameness. Jones may figure he needs a storage shed in his back yard and Smith does not. Jones builds a shed and thus has a possession that Smith does not have.
The bottom line is that Smith could have built a shed if he wanted one so he does not feel neglected because of an unequal possession.
In the ideal society basic needs would be met and if someone feels they need something beyond that he would have freedom to acquire it.
We’ll go into more detail as this treatise continues.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Six
We re told that the people of Zion must be of one heart and one mind. “for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.” Isa 52:8
Unfortunately, we are a long way from this goal for it is rare to find two people, even in a marriage or close friendship, who fit this criteria.
There are two types of oneness which can manifest in this mortal situation.
(1) Oneness that conforms to strong outer authority. This is limited to the circumference of such authority.
(2) Oneness through the eyes of The Spirit. Since Spirit does not disagree with Itself two seeing through Its eyes will see eye to eye on all essential principles with no limiting circumference.
Let’s talk about oneness through authority first. This is created when a group of people attach themselves to a strong authoritative leader or system.
A number of churches are examples of this. The evangelical churches do not have a strong central leader, but they have a system with several strong doctrinal points accepted with the strong authority of a group mindset about Jesus and salvation.
On the other hand. the LDS achieve significant oneness in their flock through strong authority in the form of their leaders with the prophet being the central character. When he says something concrete it is accepted without question by most members.
This oneness by authority is even more pervasive in some political states. For instance, in North Korea, Kim Jung-Un is the supreme leader and any lack of acceptance will put a citizen’s life in danger. Thus we have what appears to be oneness under strong authority.
What do all these states of oneness have in common?
They all adhere to an outer authority with fear of punishment attached if one questions or thinks outside of the accepted mode. In religion the punishment is hell and in political systems it is loss of possessions, freedom or life.
This oneness through strong authority is artificial, and not true oneness, for as soon as the authority is removed from two or more who seem to be one, and they start thinking for themselves, they will no longer be one.
Why is it that true oneness is so rare with those centered in the material world?
The feeling or emotional nature accounts for much of the difficulty with oneness as the emotional nature distorts reality. Two people with different bias can see the same event and offer two totally different interpretations or descriptions of it. The emotionally polarized person may hear words spoken and repeat them according to how it made him feel rather than stating the actual words.
The lower mind can also be an enemy to oneness as it often interprets according to a belief system and the belief system may have many errors and run contrary to that of a partner or associate, keeping them from being united.
True oneness comes not from reliance on strong authority filtered through lower mind and emotions, but from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is one as the Father and Son are one and does not disagree with Itself.
The Spirit, however, is not focused on details of our everyday living, but on principles for the language of Spirit is the language of principles. A true principle may reveal a thousand facts, but it may take a thousand facts to cause a mortal to see one principle.
When two or more see true principles through the eyes of the Spirit then any disagreement on data will be inconsequential. No group of Spirit infused people will have the same favorite color or song, but they can all agree on the principles behind color and music.
The path to spiritual oneness is simple, yet there are few who are willing to take the step which is this.
When a fundamental difference occurs they must spell out the two sides and articulate where they think the true principle lies. Then they must seek a revelation through the Spirit in prayer, meditation and contemplation. If the two are in harmony with Spirit they will both receive the same answer.
If this does not happen then one or both of them have misdirected focus and are not ready to participate in a Zion Society.
Zion will eventually consist of a united and tested core that is sensitive to the mind of God, who see eye to eye through free will, and will be able to guide those in the outer court of the temple toward the inner Holy of Holies.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Seven
Dwelling in Righteousness
The next thing we are told about the inhabitants of Zion is that they will “dwell in righteousness.”
The trouble with this injunction is it is subject to a wide interpretation. That which is righteous to one may be seen as evil to another. For instance, the works of Jesus were seen as the work of the devil by the Jewish authorities and that which they thought of as righteous was strict obedience to law and was seen as misplaced focus by Jesus.
Perhaps it will help if we break the word down to its core parts, RIGHT-USE-NESS.
To be righteous is to make RIGHT USE of all the powers, opportunities and talents that are available to us. Looking at it this way we can easily discern that Jesus was on the righteous path rather than his critics.
Because he made right use of all that was available to him in the loving service of others.
On the other hand, the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes directed their attention to being seen as strictly obeying the law to be “seen of men” and for serving self rather than serving others. Right use of what we have manifests love whereas misplaced attention centers on the elevation of self at the expense of love.
Therefore, when we are told that the inhabitants of Zion dwell in righteousness we can assume that these are people motivated by love for their fellow men and women and take joy in serving and benefitting them.
Because of right use of resources there will be no poor among them and because of right use of intelligence they will live in harmony seeing eye to eye on basic principles.
So, what are other examples of a people dwelling in righteousness? Of the many, here are a few.
(1) They would live in harmony with nature and avoid poisoning the soil, water and air.
(2) They would stress a healthy lifestyle and diet.
(3) They would support the Principle of Freedom as mentioned earlier. They will not seek to benefit themselves at the expense of another.
(4) They will value the inner authority of the Spirit over the outer authority of one claiming to speak for God. An outer authority will only be accepted if what he says is verified from within.
(5) They would teach the people correct principles.
(6) They would emphasize goodwill and brotherly love.
(7) Harmlessness would be emphasized.
(8) Inclusiveness would be emphasized toward all people of goodwill who support Zion ideals.
(9) Law, regulation and control over the people would be minimal.
(10) The Law of Christ would dominate over the Law of Moses. In other words, instead of being strictly ruled by hundreds of black and white commandments the guiding principle would be the love itself.
Jesus talked about this principle when he was asked what was the greatest commandment:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt 22:37-40
There we have that which was the directive of the great life lived by Jesus. It was not a black and white adherence to all the law and words of the prophets, as was attempted by those who crucified him. Instead he taught that the truth behind all the law and the prophets is manifest through applying the higher law of love in your life.
For instance, if you naturally love your neighbor you will not steal, nor murder, nor betray your spouse or do harm to any other human. If you love God you will naturally do all in your power to follow that which comes to you from the Inner Voice.
Concerning this Zion situation where this higher law is followed it is written:
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD.” Jer 31:33-34
In other words, the people of Zion will follow the example of Christ and have the law of God written in their hearts. Instead of trying to follow black and white words from stone tablets all they need to do to fulfill the law is to check with the Christ within their own hearts.
Everyone shall know the Lord because all will be in contact with the Lord of Love within their own hearts.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Eight
The Tenth Article of Faith in the LDS church proclaims that they “believe in the literal gathering of Israel.”
The strange part about this is that even though this is put forward as a foundational belief they are making no effort to gather their people.
They say they are gathering the members by making converts that mingle with the members and gather together on Sundays in church. But isn’t this what all religions do? The people of all churches gather together in meetings, yet they do not claim that it is a literal gathering of Israel.
Is the church missing something?
Indeed they are, for the understanding of the gathering is a mystery that goes over the head of most of the flock. Take note of this scripture:
“Therefore I will unfold unto them this GREAT MYSTERY; For behold I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts.” D&C 10:64-65
Here we are told that the gathering is a “great mystery.” So, what is so mysterious about it? Isn’t the basic idea that the saints should gather together a pretty simple concept?
Yes and no. No because if it were simple the church would be obeying their own commandment and creating gatherings as specified in their scriptures. Take this one, for instance:
“Those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints, if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them GATHER THEMSELVES TOGETHER unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph (or another servant), AND BUILD UP CITIES UNTO MY NAME, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.” D&C 125:2
The founder, Joseph Smith, correctly attempted to implement the gathering principle by gathering the members into communities and near the end of his life building the city of Nauvoo as a gathering destination.
After Joseph’s death the church continued to follow this commandment for a season. They created Salt Lake and other cities as gathering places, but as time passed and the world moved in with them they saw no necessity for any literal gathering and dropped the idea, but still dangle a possible future gathering before the members.
What is overlooked is a major purpose of a literal gathering that was stated in the scripture just noted:
“that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.”
A literal gathering of Saints into communities of like-minded thinkers is essential to the protection of the pure in heart so they can be prepared for possible calamities to come. There are a number of potential events that could create chaos among the population centers of the world and the people of the United States would be particularly vulnerable. Here are several:
(1) A nuclear war. This is the most feared possibility and if it happened mob rule would occur and there would be no safe place to go.
(2) Just a couple nuclear devices exploded in our atmosphere by a rogue state creating a magnetic pulse that could take down the electrical grid. Again, we would have mob rule within days, over half the nation would die and there would be no safe place to go.
(3) A solar flare would create a pulse that could also take out the grid. In 1859, a massive geomagnetic super-storm, known as the Carrington event, sent powerful coronal mass ejections toward Earth taking out telegraph lines, even starting them of fire. We are overdue for another such event and totally unprepared. We are extremely dependent on our grid and if taken out the world would be in chaos with nowhere for people to go for safety. Again millions, perhaps billions of people, would suffer and die.
(4) A drastic economic collapse. There have been many predictions made of such an event and again such an event would produce mob rule and there would be no safe place for any average person.
Now the LDS church seems to think that because a few have some food storage that there would be safety for the members, they would share the food and all would be well.
This thinking is pure fantasy. Once the masses start starving within a week or so of the collapse there would be little sharing and each person and mob will be out for themselves. It is a well-known fact that Mormons store food so this will make members targets above any other people. Mobs would search out Mormons and attempt to steal their food.
In tough times food storage will benefit members, but in a total collapse they would become targets.
On the other hand, a successful gathered community would be prepared as a gathered unit to weather any storm, be self sufficient, and protect itself from mobs.
Scripture predicts that the authorities would stray from the gathering concept:
God compared the gathering Of Israel to a tower and after He commanded its construction, “They began to say among themselves: And what need hath my Lord of this tower? And consulted for a long time saying among themselves: What need hath my Lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace? (That is persecution has subsided so why gather. It is no longer necessary) Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things. (After all it costs money to gather together and build cities) And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not to the commandments of the Lord. And the enemy came by night and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were afrightened and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees. Now behold, the nobleman, the Lord of the vineyard called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil? Ought YE NOT TO HAVE DONE EVEN AS I COMMANDED YOU, and after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof – built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, AND NOT FALLEN ASLEEP, lest the enemy should come upon you? And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy While HE WAS YET FAR OFF; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.” D&C 101:47-54 Then the Lord tells us he will call a faithful servant to fulfill his will which would be accomplished “after many days.” Verse 62 Then He speaks clearly a few verses later and said: “They shall continue to gather together unto the places which I have appointed.” Verse 7.
One might ask how would the gathering enable us to “have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off?” Verse 54 The reason he would have been seen while he was yet afar off is because the gathering always draws opposition and the enemy would have continued to show himself while he was yet weak or afar off. If the gathering had continued then the Church would be prepared for the enemy today. As it is, with the dissolution of the gathering, the Church does not draw the evil men to oppose them. They appear as friends and the saints eat and drink with the drunken and cannot see the enemy afar off; yea, they cannot see him until it is too late.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Nine
The Great Mystery
The scripture said that the gathering is a “great mystery.” A mystery is something that goes over the heads of the majority. It is interesting that the gathering principle is taught throughout the Bible as well as the the LDS scriptures yet understanding is sadly lacking.
Here are some of the reasons for a literal gathering that you will not hear in church.
(1) A gathering can create a place of refuge in times of great trouble.
(2) A gathering of lights creates an ensign, a standard of light and love that will attract the lights of the earth as well as reveal works of darkness.
(3) A gathering of lights will stimulate the intelligence and creativity of the group. It will cause new productive ideas to manifest and flourish.
(4) It will be a center of peace. Since Zion, or the New Jerusalem, is the gathering of the pure in heart and such people are good natured and peaceful, they can set an example of peaceful living and cooperation. After all, the name Jerusalem comes from the Hebrew YeRUWSHALAYIM which means “to instruct or show the way to peace.”
(5) It will prepare a place where Christ can manifest and be accepted. He will finally have a place on earth “to lay his head.”
(6) The gathering will create communities of people willing to share of their wealth so all will have abundance, not only of material goods, but of spiritual and educational.
(7) The greatest mystery behind the gathering is the principle itself. It is the principle is behind all progress toward higher states of living.
The Gathering principle is basically this:
All evolution in the universe is driven forward through gathering. Small units gather together and create greater units more complex with greater powers than themselves alone.
Subatomic particles gathered together and created atoms. Atoms gathered together and created molecules. Molecules gathered and created all kinds of beautiful geometric forms and compounds. These particles gathered and created living cells. Cells gather and created all kinds of living things..
Humans, being the most advanced lives known to us, gathered into families. The families gathered and created tribes that offered more advantages to secure survival. Later tribes gathered and created kingdoms which offered more advanced civilization. More recently, we have had a gathering of freedom loving people throughout the world to America which created a government more advanced than one ruled by an authoritarian king. A new system of representative democracy was created that greatly advanced free market competitive enterprise, freedom of speech and freedom in general.
Now we are approaching the next step forward in spiritual and social progress by a gathering of lights and people of goodwill who will create a Zion society where cooperation rather than competition will be the keynote. The new creation will be an advance over the government we have now comparable to the advance that a democratic government is over a land ruled by an absolute king or dictator.
There are a lot of people looking forward to a future gathering, but not seeing any steps now that can be taken, except maybe being a good person so he will be chosen of God when the time comes.
What is not realized is that a true Zion Society will demand an enormous change in people and huge change in human behavior takes time. It does not come overnight.
Seekers through their own initiative can gather in different ways to prepare for a greater gathering that will involve the building of actual cities.
The main avenue of preparation now is the internet which itself seems to be a fulfillment of prophecy concerning the gathering.
Perhaps Jesus saw the internet age when he said:
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:2
Indeed – in this age of technology that which was before kept secret is broadcast to the housetops for the whole world to access.
In addition to this he said that
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, (the Internet) that was cast into the sea (the peoples of the earth – See Rev 17:15), and gathered of every kind” Matt 13:47-50
A name synonymous with the internet is the “super highway”. Isaiah talks of a highway for the remnant of his people that will take the people through a great deep similar to the highway that took the Israelites through the Red Sea.
“And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Isa 11:16)
This highway shall evidently be “cast up” in the midst of a future red sea, or ocean:
“Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.” (Isa 62:10)
So we see that even the ancient scriptures are harmonious with the idea that the internet will play a huge part in the great gathering to come.
The gathering of minds will precede the gathering of bodies.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Ten
Attempts at Zion
So, what kind of government can we expect to have in Zion?
Before we answer that we perhaps should look at the governmental attempts in the past of those who have tried to create the sharing and equality aspects dreamed of by those desiring such a society.
In a nutshell what has happened is basically this. The idealists had good intensions but did not realize that few humans would diligently apply their labor and their means only motivated for the good of the whole. It is human nature to need some type of personal motivation. The dreamers discovered that even the most dedicated become enraged when they see their neighbors taking it easy while expecting others to make up for their deficits. The question which always arises is this. “Why should I have to work twice as hard to support those who are just plain lazy?”
Thus you will often have groups who start out with a relaxed attitude turning into a tyranny before the group finally winds up self-destructing. This happens because they conclude that people are just too lazy on their own and need to be forced to do their part. Then when force is applied minimal results are produced because human nature needs some personal incentive and such incentive always produces more results than force. When force is applied the people use their wits to outsmart the authorities and beat the system rather than working hard to contribute to it.
That being said, what kind of government should a group have that desires to create a Zion society? Fortunately we can learn from past failures. After examining them we can at least determine what not to do. The failed groups reveal to us that neither extreme works.
The first extreme is where a powerful authority rules the group and strict rules are incorporated where the individual has little room to exercise his own initiative, or even speak his mind if it disagrees with the group mindset.
The other extreme occurs when the group has the idealist mindset that everyone is equal and no hierarchy or leadership is needed. This occurs when a conclusion is reached that either people can instinctively govern themselves or that each has a personal connection with God and God or Jesus will tell them all to do the right thing so efficiently that self government will just automatically happen.
This approach also fails, for if anarchy does not result it devolves into an “every man for himself” situation where the situation became chaotic. After this occurs the group either dissolves or a handful take control, assume authoritarian leadership, and the individuals lose their agency as did the authoritarian group that they at first despised.
The early Mormons under Joseph Smith, before the creation of the city of Nauvoo, tried to establish an order where the members had all things in common, but individual self-interest ruled and the effort was not successful.
“Many of the new converts had belonged to a religious society known as “Disciples.” Even after joining the Church, these converts continued to practice what was called “common stock,” or the holding of all property in common. But discord arose among members over the manner in which this system should operate. Some considered that what belonged to one member belonged to anyone in the branch. “Therefore,” wrote John Whitmer, “they would take each other’s clothes and other property and use it without leave, which brought on confusion and disappointments, for they did not understand the scripture”
“Church History,” Journal of History, Jan. 1908, p. 50).
By the time hey moved to Nauvoo Joseph seemed to come to a realization that the way they had gone about living the Law of Consecration just did not work.
It was observed that Joseph in Nauvoo “was determined that no man should be brought before the Council in Nauvoo till that time, etc., etc. The law of consecration could not be kept here, and that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it; and if persisted in, it would produce a perfect defeat of its object, and that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it until proposed by himself.” DHC 4:93
Latter he said this:
“I preached on the stand about one hour on the 2nd chapter of Acts, designing to show the folly of common stock. In Nauvoo every one is steward over his own.” DHC 6:37
Concerning this, Richard Bushman wrote this in his biography of Joseph Smith:
“He (Joseph Smith) was interested enough in schemes of economic reform to invite John Finch to lecture in Nauvoo while visiting the city. Finch was associated with Robert Owen, the Scottish industrialist-turned-socialist who had founded a utopian community at New Harmony, Indiana. Prevailed on to stay two extra days, September 13 and 14, 1843, Finch talked on “the present wretched condition of the working classes, and the causes of their misery” to an audience of nearly two thousand people. On the second day, discussion went on for five hours. Though Joseph listened to Finch, the Prophet said he “did not believe the doctrine.” A few weeks later Joseph preached on “the folly of common stock,” the idea of the communal sharing of property, much discussed in that decade.
“Joseph accepted the economy of private property and individual enterprise. Even under the consecration of properties, individual stewards operated independently in a market economy, though they were obligated to return their “surplus” to the bishop.
Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Lyman Bushman, Page 502
So, Joseph seemed to learn from experience, but this did not stop Mormons under Brigham Young from experimenting with united orders where the group had all things in common. Predictably none of them succeeded and fell apart after a short time.
That said the question remains, which is this.
What kind of government or organization can be created that will be workable? What kind of government will allow for individual freedom, yet avoid breakdown from lack of structure?
This has been on the minds of many who have contemplated Zion.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Eleven
We have discussed elements of government that are undesirable in Zion or anywhere else. The question remains as to what is desirable, workable and in harmony with the will of God?
Now some say that hierarchy needs to be eliminated that people in Zion will be so enlightened and in communication with God that all citizens will just know their place and what to do at any given moment.
The problem with this idea is that it runs contrary to common sense, scripture and recorded history. Never in history has there been a successful city, state or nation that has not had a hierarchy.
Now the rebellion against the idea of hierarchy is understandable because it is the tendency of almost all governments in history to gravitate toward authoritarianism or totalitarianism.
On the other hand, rejecting hierarchy because of past abuse is like rejecting the use of money because it has been used for many destructive purposes in our history. Money is a neutral power that can be used for good or evil and many us it for good purposes from building libraries, feeding and housing our families, spreading goodwill etc.
The same can be said for hierarchy. The power behind it can be used for good or evil. Hierarchy in government and the military enabled us to defeat Hitler as well as establish the free nation of the United States with Washington in charge.
The Book of Revelations makes it clear that there is hierarchy in heaven with God in charge and Christ under him. Under them are the twenty-four elders and numerous angels.
Jesus acknowledged, “my Father is greater than I.” John 14:28 The fact that Jesus was subject to one higher than him is evident from many scriptures:
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4:34
This famous scripture foresees a future government or hierarchy with Christ in charge:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isa 9:6-7
Now some may agree that eventually Christ will be our governor, but in the meantime we should not concern ourselves with any organized effort, but just wait on the Lord.
But those waiting for a new Moses to come off a mountain with great signs of fire and lightenings will be waiting in this world and the next. They will be equated with the man who buried his talent in the earth.
These people forget that we “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” D&C 58:27
Yes, there are plenty out there that claim revelations telling us about the order of Zion, with them in charge, but none that make enough sense to bring people of goodwill together.
On the other hand, we should be able to agree on governing principles taught by the prophets, with gaps supplemented by some logic and common sense.
One thing solidly taught in LDS scriptures is that the Constitution was inspired and the government based on the United States Constitution was a step in the right direction. The revelation says:
“According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I have raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” D&C 101:77-80
It is interesting that the principles of the Constitution were not created just for The United States, but to maintain “the rights and protection of all flesh.”
Further we are told:
“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them. And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land.” D&C 98:4-6
Thus we see that the rights and privileges of the Constitution “belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable…”
Joseph added this:
“Hence we say, that the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun. … We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true; DHC 3:304
Then we are given this:
“Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.” D&C 109:54
The prayer here is that the principles of the Constitution should “be established forever.”
Does this mean that the Constitution is perfect as written? No. It was created through fallible men, but according to the scriptures the basic principles in it are inspired. Joseph Smith did indicate one flaw. He said:
“Although it provides that ail men shall enjoy religious freedom, yet it does not provide the manner by which that freedom can be preserved, nor for the punishment of Government officers who refuse to protect the people in their religious rights, or punish those mobs, states, or communities who interfere with the rights of the people on account of their religion. Its sentiments are good, but it provides no means of enforcing them. It has but this one fault. Under its provision, a man or a people who are able to protect themselves can get along well enough; but those who have the misfortune to be weak or unpopular are left to the merciless rage of popular fury.” DHC 6:57
What Joseph is saying here is that the Constitution is inspired and the principles are just, but corrupt leaders can abuse their power and negate the freedoms we are supposed to have. When this happens we have little power to correct the situation.
Within the United States we see that our leaders and judges often defy the Constitution. We also see even more egregious examples in some third world countries that have many principles of the Constitution incorporated in their own documents, yet rule as if it were a lawless dictatorship.
So how can more power of correction be applied to a government to insure that Zion will not suffer corruption? In addition, how can we use these principles to insure that any gathering of the pure in heart will be free to live Zion principles? That is the next subject of contemplation.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Twelve
Ingredients of Zion
We’ve talked about what will and will not work within a Zion society. Now let us concentrate on the positive. What are guidelines that should be incorporated into a Zion society?
The prophets have emphasized a number principles upon which we can build.
Perhaps the most important of all was sounded by Paul who said, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” II Cor 3:17
Joseph Smith, who suffered tremendous persecution, increasingly stressed this principle for his life experience taught him of its great value.
Secondly, the principles of the Constitution are endorsed by the scriptures, especially those that protect our freedoms.
Thirdly, a Zion society should provide maximum free will incentive to take us toward oneness, spiritual consciousness, brotherly love, equality and abundance for all. Jesus expressed the goal, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Using these guidelines, along with the scriptures, let us present some essential ingredients that must exist as we take steps toward Zion.
(1) The seeker must realize that Zion will not be created in one giant step. Any great ideal that requires change in human thinking takes time to incorporate. The various steps must be adapted to the capacity of the people to assimilate.
For instance, it took the civilized world thousands of years to arrive at the consciousness that would allow a group of people to develop and be governed by the free principles of the Constitution.
Our next giant step is to move from a competitive society to a cooperative one. We must realize that effective cooperation takes time to establish.
(2) Maximum freedom would require the right balance of hierarchy, leadership and government. Leaders will do their part in freeing the citizens from being involved in too many details yet the people will have their say on important issues and who will lead them.
(3) The basic freedoms of the Bill of Rights need to be embraced with emphasis on free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.
(4) The principles of Zion must be presented to the world so that like-minded thinkers will be attracted to gather under its banner. Those attracted to Zion will come from many different spiritual backgrounds.
(5) Instead of relying on taxes Zion will operate from free will offerings and donated labor. A10% tithe would be expected, but other free will offerings will be encouraged.
(6) The poor will be assisted but they are not entitled to a free lunch. This principle is laid out in the scriptures:
“Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” D&C 42:42
“For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.
“Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.’ Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.” II Thess 3:7-12 New Living Translation
Those who are in need can expect help as long as they are willing to give back as they are able.
(7) Like attracts like. A core group of people who are sensitive to the Spirit and willing to follow it must be gathered. Joseph spoke well when he gave this advice:
“If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong we may go wrong, and it will be a hard matter to get right.” DHC 6:303
If we start with a good core group that is a living link between heaven and earth then the desired end will become possible.
For ideas concerning a step toward Zion check out this link:
For information on creating a core group to link heaven and earth read The Molecular Relationship. Here is the link for the free book.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Thirteen
There is one thing that most planned social or spiritual communities have in common that cause great repulsion to many high quality individuals.
And what is that?
It is sameness.
Take a look at the Amish, breakoffs from the LDS, such as Warren Jeff’s FLDS bunch and other fundamentalists, cults such as the Branch Davidians that went up in flames and various new age compounds.
Many of them have such similar dress and hairstyles that it is difficult to tell them apart.
Many are indoctrinated with the same material and discouraged or prohibited from learning anything from the outside evil world.
Many are forced to eat the same food and are restricted as to what they can drink.
Many insist on eating together in a common area.
Many restrict access to entertainment and only that which is approved by authorities is allowed.
There are an excessive number of rules to create uniform behavior patterns.
Many of them are against using modern technology and its advances.
Most of them have an authority figure at their head that must be obeyed or members will be shunned or excommunicated.
This extreme drift toward sameness occurring in planned experiments in equality and sharing is abhorrent to most spiritual or intelligent people – the type that is needed to build the real Zion.
It is no wonder that those close to the Spirit, though they may seek spiritual unity, embrace the uniqueness of each individual and feel encouraged to explore it.
And is it any surprise that this is the case? To understand all we have to do is look at the creations of God. Did the Supreme Power create sameness or diversity?
Creation is full of wonderful and beautiful diversity. Just as each snowflake is different so is each person, each flower, each animal, each planet, solar system and galaxy. If sameness was the goal of the Creator then all the planets and stars would be the same.
Just look at the difference between the earth and the moon as an obvious example. Or look through a telescope and see the difference between Saturn and the Earth.
When considering the virtues of individual and diverse interest and expression the question which arises is this. Can we have a society which allows the freedom of the individual to pursue his destiny, yet still attain the necessary unity and equality needed for a Zion society?
The answer is a resounding yes for unity is a much different thing than sameness.
My wife and I are a good example. We are united on accepting spiritual principles, yet as people we are very different. We accept and often enjoy those differences and do not let them interfere with the important aspects of spiritual unity.
In our spare time she loves to devour health related books whereas I concentrate on alternative spiritual ones. This lack of sameness does nothing to interfere with unity as sharing diverse knowledge is beneficial to both of us.
Just take a look at the solar system for a great example of unity, wherein also is expressed great diversity and uniqueness.
Each planet, asteroid, comet and moon is very different from each other yet the system as a whole has a unity that hums away through the ages.
Taking this into consideration what will a Zion society look like that has a unity, yet allows for tolerance.
The most important quality that will exist in such a society will be the realization that there will be a minimal number of rules and regulations. The reason is expressed in this scripture: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” Jer 31:33
Those with a degree of enlightenment know what is the appropriate behavior and do not need a large list of rules to govern their lives. They do not need to be told what to wear, what to eat, which movies to see or music that is acceptable.
Joseph Smith seemed to realize this near the end of his life for he said:
“I also spoke at length for the repeal of the ordinance of the city licensing merchants, hawkers, taverns, and ordinaries, desiring that this might be a free people, and enjoy equal rights and privileges, and the ordinances were repealed.” DHC 5:8
Behavior will be narrowed down to one thing: Practice harmlessness. Avoid those things which will harm yourself and others and focus on those that are beneficial to all.
Participants will avoid as much as possible the development of lists of what is harmful and what is not.
Of course, the citizens of Zion will not be perfect, and as it is in the process of creation there will be obvious harmful infractions that may have to be dealt with, but these will be things universally acknowledged to be harmful such as robbery or physical attack. Minor things such as difference in dress wlll not require laws and regulations.
Joseph commented on how to deal with harmful infractions:
“Advise your legislators, when they make laws for larceny, burglary, or any felony, to make the penalty applicable to work upon roads, public works, or any place where the culprit can be taught more wisdom and more virtue, and become more enlightened. Rigor and seclusion will never do as much to reform the propensities of men as reason and friendship. Murder only can claim confinement or death. Let the penitentiaries be turned into seminaries of learning, where intelligence, like the angels of heaven, would banish such fragments of barbarism.” DHC 6:205
If Zion can have a successful beginning where it creates an ensign of unity, yet allowing maximum individual freedom of activity and expression, then many who have been repelled by the numerous cult-like gathered groups would be attracted to this one.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Fourteen
The Laborers in Zion
Many dream of Zion wonder what they can do to further its cause. Others figure they just need to sit back and wait for God or some prophet to tell them what to do as do the people in the LDS church, for example.
The church is gathering people into churches, similar to other religions, but it is not building communities and cities where Zion principles can be applied.
Joseph Smith said that, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.” DHC 3:390 and “without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall.” DHC 2:52
Unfortunately, there is no place of deliverance at this time. If we had a major calamity there would be no place of refuge for a deserving people.
Revelation tells us to seek the cause of Zion:
“Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.” D&C 6:6
Nephi warns us to not let the laborer in Zion perish:
“Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish. II Nephi 26:30-31
Where are the laborers for Zion? We find none in the churches and the few claiming to be building Zion are in the cults merely seeking for power.
Indeed, in this time of world tension the need is here to remind the pure in heart that the call to build Zion has never been rescinded.
Since the call has never been rescinded and those believers who cease to labor for Zion are condemned (D&C 101:47-54 previously quoted) then all those who accept the concept as being in harmony with the will of God are under an obligation to continue to labor for Zion.
The question arises which is “What can we do?” After all, there is no recognized living prophet saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” telling us what to do next.
The simple answer is this. If you do not have new instructions take a look at the old instructions. Maybe seekers cannot find new instructions because they have been slack on fulfilling that which has already been given.
Taking all this into consideration what then can the sincere seeker after Zion do to re-establish himself as a laborer in Zion?
The laborer today is somewhat limited. Here is what is not readily available.
- There is no land readily available on which to gather and build a city.
- There are no Zion conscious people physically gathered that could provide a place of refuge for people of goodwill.
- There is no significantly recognized ensign or standard lifted up under which the pure in heart can unite to create Zion.
The laborer in the vineyard must consider the limitations he is under and move forward to the best of his ability. After all, this is what Joseph had to do.
All the revelations concerning the building of Zion were given a few years after the church was formed. When the saints were driven to Illinois Joseph received confirmation that Nauvoo was a gathering place, but no new instructions on the creation of Zion. He had to go by what was already given and used his highest intelligence to more forward. He realized that the minds of the people were not prepared for the type of equality previously tried where attempts were made to have all things in common. Concerning this in Nauvoo he said:
“I preached on the stand about one hour on the 2nd chapter of Acts, designing to show the folly of common stock. In Nauvoo every one is steward over his own.”
There may be an ideal of common stock which could be lived if all people were perfect, but Joseph realized they were not and needed individual incentive. He therefore created a stewardship principle with responsibilities of private ownership. The people were much more compatible with this plan.
In addition to this he bought 20,000 acres of land in Iowa for a continuation of the gathering. This required no revelation; instead, Joseph used his own judgment in this expansion.
He also seemed to realize that there were many non Mormons who could make good citizens of Zion for concerning these new lands for gathering he said:
“I desire all the Saints, AS WELL AS ALL LOVERS OF TRUTH and correct principles, to come to this place as fast as possible, or [as rapidly as] their circumstances will permit,” DHC 4:178
He thus invited “all lovers of truth” Mormons and non-Mormons to gather to build Zion.
Today the laborers in Zion must follow in the footsteps of Joseph, take what was given in the past as a guide but take steps adapted to the capacity of people of goodwill with the realization that this is a step. If the laborers in the vineyard follow the highest they know and create a first step, then a second step will be given followed by a third until Zion will manifest in all its glory.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Fifteen
What We Can Do
Since the commandment to build Zion has not been rescinded and is still in full force this question become paramount in the mind of a supporter of the principles therein: Exactly what is it that the voluntary laborers in the vineyard are supposed to do that heads in the direction of Zion?
First, let us look at what we cannot do because of limitations of the present world.
(1) We cannot invite all the world to gather to a certain place to build a city that can also be a refuge because no place of significance exists in the present world.
(2) Supporters of Zion cannot have their own civil government for all lands on the planet are ruled under some kind of external government.
Now some say this is just cause for doing nothing today and just wait for all governments to collapse. Then Zion will be built.
On the other hand, Joseph initiated the creation of Zion under a more abusive government than we have today. Governments today are worthy of criticism, but no state or national government in the United States have given an extermination order to eliminate an entire religion as did governor Boggs of Missouri.
In addition, Joseph taught that one of the purposes of the gathering to build Zion was to create refuge to protect the people in the event of a collapse, or the fall of Babylon, and if we did not do this we would fail in our purpose.
(3) There is no group of people who are united on what a laborer in Zion is supposed to do in present time. The current LDS church says the time is not ripe for any new gathering and the break-offs wander in the darkness of tyrannical rule, only accepting those who submit to the arm of flesh.
Some non-LDS gatherings are closer to Zion than anything related to the church, but lack the vision to implement its ideals. They are also very limited in the numbers they can assimilate.
(4) There is supposed to be an “ensign” lifted up that will attract the lights from all nations and there is nothing like this available. Just like the U. S. Constitution and a free government was an ensign that caught the attention of the world and attracted freedom-loving people, Zion will need a similar ensign that will attract the pure in heart. At present, no such ensign exists.
Considering these limitations the sincere seeker after Zion is still left wondering what he can do. One thing we do know for sure is that the principle of gathering is the core ingredient in establishing Zion. Without it, Zion cannot manifest.
Therefore, the first item the seeker needs to consider is exactly what he can do to assist in the gathering of those who have Zion in their hearts.
We already discussed a step that is available now and was actually predicted by the scriptures and that is the Internet. It is that great “net” predicted by Jesus and the superhighway predicted by Isaiah. On the Internet, in many places, are people gathered into groups to discuss every topic you can imagine. Fortunately, there are numerous spiritual groups composed of people of goodwill seeking to share ideas compatible with a Zion society.
Therefore, one definite step the laborer in Zion can take is to join some of these positive groups, share ideas and find others whose thinking is in reasonable harmony with his own. If he cannot find any then he can start his own group and send out his own “ensign” as a signal to which like minds can gather.
As it stands today there and many thousands of prospective inhabitants of Zion gathered together on the internet sharing ideas and ideals. The only thing that is lacking among them is a unifying ensign put forward which will pierce their hearts, brighten their hopes and excite their spirits to a degree that many will want to participate.
What could possible happen to attract the pure in heart to a new gathering?
To answer this question we can look at the past. What was the most successful gathering of all time and what caused it to happen.
Mormons would say that it was the gathering related to the teachings of Joseph Smith, but there was one before that which paved the way for the idea of Zion to even manifest.
And what was that?
It was the gathering of people from all nations of the world to the new land of America. Consider these questions:
What was it about America that drew others to gather there?
What was the ensign?
We have all heard the idea that history repeats itself. In the past we have had first a general gathering to America that was followed by a more specific gathering that was an attempt to build Zion.
If this cycle repeats then how do you suppose the corresponding events will manifest?
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Sixteen
To Save Rather Than Destroy
As noted in Part fifteen, the most successful gathering of all time was that which resulted in the drawing of people throughout the world coming to America, particularly, the United States. What then was the ensign that drew the people?
In the beginning, before the creation of the United States, the great draw was opportunity and greater freedom. There was a new land discovered offering people an opportunity to improve their physical lives, and there were also fewer restrictions giving a chance for more freedom which would improve the spiritual life.
After the Revolutionary War and the creation of the United States that ensign became emblazoned in the words of the Constitution forging a country offering such heretofore opportunity that the saying went abroad that “the streets were paved with gold.”
People from all over the world sold all they had and left friends and family in hope for a better life. We thus saw the lifting up of an ensign never before seen in the known history of the world.
Is it possible that we could have a repetition of such a significant event? If so, how could it happen?
The problem is that every square foot of inhabitable earth is claimed by some government of the world so there is no known new land to be colonized. The only new lands would be in outer space such as the moon or Mars. One of the best possibilities would be hollowing out an asteroid and creating an artificial world within it. Another possibility is building cities that orbit the earth. I am sure that different types of colonies will exist in different parts of the Solar System, but it will be some time before technology can make such things available, so we will put that one on the table for now.
Any gathering that is under the dominion of an existing government can have some spiritual value, but will not create the excitement that a new land could offer.
Is the possibility of a new land an impossible dream then?
No there are a number of possibilities.
There could be a great apocalypse, caused by nuclear war or some natural calamity that would destroy existing governments. If this happened survivors could gather and create a new system.
Believers in numerous religions have been waiting for this “fall of Babylon” for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years.
There are several problems with waiting for this prophecy to materialize before doing anything.
First, the prophecy was made 2000 years ago and still it has not occurred. Even if it is literally accurate it may be another thousand yeas before it may happen.
Secondly, the prediction may be interpreted incorrectly. Perhaps the fall of Babylon will be on a spiritual level rather than physical.
Thirdly, predictions can be reversed if the people change. The most notable example in the scriptures is the story of Jonah prophesying to Nineveh.
Jonah was told to go preach to Nineveh but he didn’t want to go there because the Nineveh people skinned people alive and they were really terrible people. So Jonah was terrified about the people in Nineveh that he tried to escape the mission. Then the Bible says that God caused a big fish to swallow Jonah and spit him on the shores of Nineveh. At that time he saw there was no way out so he decided to give the message very quickly and get out of there.
So he goes into Nineveh and says, “Forty days will not pass that fire will come down out of heaven and burn you all up. You guys are going to get what you deserve.” Then Jonah goes up on this mountain top where he could look down on Nineveh and wait for the forty days to pass because God told him that they had forty days.
The people in Nineveh got together and wondered if what he had said was true. “Maybe we ought to change our ways. We don’t want to be swept up by fire.” They actually believed him and asked God to forgive them. After the forty days passed the scriptures tell us that God decided to forgive them.
On the fortieth day Jonah was waiting and no fire came down out of heaven and he grumbled about it and said, “What’s the big idea God? You made me out to be a false prophet. I told these people that they would die in forty days but they aren’t dying!”
During the forty days a big gourd had grown up then died next to Jonah. God said, “Do you realize that you’re more concerned with that big plant that gave you shade than you are about these several hundred thousand people whose souls have been saved? Where are your priorities Jonah? You should be happy to be a false prophet.”
Obviously, God only wants to use destruction as a last resort and is willing to delay or reverse such directions. This is illustrated in the response of Jesus to a question from James and John.
A certain city refused entrance to Jesus and his disciples. James and John were somewhat irritated and said to their Master: “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” Luke 9:54-56
Numerous Christians do not realize what manner of Spirit they are for in their prayers many of them are praying for the day of fire when many of their neighbors would be destroyed. If they really want to follow Jesus they should seek to save rather than destroy those with differing beliefs.
Is it not obvious that God would much rather save his children rather than destroy them? Assuming this is true, what then could be in store for the laborers in Zion?
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Seventeen
The New Gatherings
It is a fact that everything goes in cycles including history. A cycle has a beginning, an end and then an interlude. After the interlude another cycle begins that has both similarities and differences.
In the recent past there have been two gatherings that point the people toward Zion.
The first was the gathering from throughout the world to the United States. The great draw or ensign was freedom and opportunity. Few came here with the idea of being closer to the Spirit but what was not realized is that those who are close to it have a great desire for freedom and making the best of opportunities offered.
Thus the United States became a net that drew in people of every kind, some of the best along with some of the worst.
Then came the second gathering initiated by Joseph Smith where they looked at the fish gathered by the great net and attempted to gather from it the good ones in harmony with the Spirit. The ensign there was enhanced spiritual life and new knowledge and revelation.
Both gatherings fulfilled a step, but the desired end result was not achieved in either one.
The United States is no longer an ensign for the freedom of the human spirit as too many laws, regulations, controls, drift from the Constitution, taxes and struggles for political power suffocate the original beacon of liberty.
Similarly, the LDS have completely abandoned the gathering principle, telling the people it will not happen until God speaks from another Mt. Sinai and tells them what to do.
For some time then we have been in the interlude, between cycles. We are fortunate that the time of a new cycle has already begun.
Like last time, this time there will be a general gathering for the sake of freedom and opportunity. Then from that net will be gathered those who are in harmony with Spirit.
The initial step of the first gathering has already occurred and that is the creation of the internet, the net which allows individuals of the same mind to gather in groups and communicate.
So, what is the next step? How can a new ensign of freedom be set up when every particle of inhabitable land is claimed by some restrictive government?
There are three possibilities.
(1) Gather within a current country, like the United States, where there is some freedom. Create communities with desirable living conditions occupied by good people that will attract others to join.
That which can be created here will be limited by the outside government which is in control, but such an effort is better than no effort at all.
The other two possibilities will require a significant investment by likeminded people. Correspondingly, those who laid the foundation of America made great investments and many obtained financial backing of investors who stayed behind.
(2) Buy large tracks of land in third world countries. If the investment were significant the group could make an arrangement with the government in charge to grant them autonomy so they could govern themselves.
And why would they do this?
They would do it if the benefit to them was significant which would be:
- More prosperous people would be coming to their country and spending money there.
- The gathering would be a tourist attraction bringing more visitors to the country who would spend money.
- In addition, the group could offer a one time monetary amount for a guarantee of independence. If the one time deal doesn’t work a reasonable offer could be extended over a decade or two.
- The group could offer to assist the native citizens in improving their lives.
The question which may arise is, What if the government doesn’t keep its agreement and decides it wants to confiscate the lands?
This is always a possibility, but the chances are that a betrayal would not happen for the first few years. Such an agreement would only be made when it was seen that there was sincerity on both sides.
Then, after a significant gathering takes place the inhabitants would be strong enough to defend themselves if some type of invasion occurred.
There are a lot of people thinking in the direction of an independent gathering, but do not have the strength in numbers to pull it off. On the other hand, if such an event did happen a new ensign would be lifted that would attract many in the scattered little groups who desire a better country and more freedom.
Once this gathering is accomplished by one group, others will follow. If the country involved benefits, then other third world countries will volunteer to be next in line.
Next we will look at the third option which is marvelous indeed.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Eighteen
Zion Upon the Waters
As pointed out earlier there is not a square foot of inhabitable land that is not claimed by some country. No matter where prospective gatherers buy land they will be subject to some external government, unless they make a deal with a third world government.
The scripture says: “ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come…”
If this is true then the Zion that will be built just before the Second Coming will not be subject to any laws, but those that exist in Zion.
Now many believe Zion will have its own laws because there will be some type of world wide collapse and the willing will be able to start anew. However, believers have been waiting 2000 years for such an event and it has not happened. If we have to wait another thousand years then should we do nothing but wait for the day when the wicked shall burn as stubble?
The answer is no.
Because the command to build Zion is still in force just as much as the command to not steal. Why pick one commandment to obey and disregard another?
So, then, outside of colonizing space is there a third way to create communities with their own laws?
There is one that has been greatly overlooked. We forget that over two-thirds of the planet is covered by water and no nation has control of the high seas. Presently, the international waters are open to all.
Is it possible that part of the reason the planet is covered by so many international waters so that gathering places can be created in our time?
So, how will we gather upon the waters?
The answer is quite simple. We will build floating cities upon the seas. This came to me around thirty yeas ago and I couldn’t find anyone else who was thinking this direction. Since then I see many have picked it up and have placed significant funds into research and development of floating cities. Some designs are said to be hurricane proof and others are capable of moving to desirable new locations when needed.
The enterprise of building cities on the seas that will have their own governments even has a name. It is called “Seasteading.” Google the word and you will find much interesting information available.
Just like the first gathering of the last cycle to America was composed of a great variety of people so will the gathering on the seas. The first ones will not create Zion but will pave the way for “Zion upon the waters.”
Where have we heard that phrase before?
Here it is: “And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to THE LAND OF ZION UPON THE WATERS, but he that is upright in heart.” D&C 61:16
The fact that Zion upon the waters must be built before Christ comes is foreshadowed in this scripture:
“Wherefore, prepare ye for the coming of the Bridegroom; go ye, go ye out to meet him. For behold, he shall stand upon the mount of Olivet, AND UPON THE MIGHTY OCEAN, EVEN THE GREAT DEEP and upon the islands of the sea, and upon the land of Zion.” D&C 133:19-20
When Christ comes we will go “out to meet him.” And where will we go? We will go to “the mighty ocean, even the great deep.”
And how will we do this? We will build cities on the sea in preparation for him and there we will have a place for him to stand upon the mighty ocean and teach his people.
So, then, in the coming cycle many will gather and build cities on the land and the sea. This will later be followed by cities under the sea and those that float in the air.
This new gathering will be like the net spoken of by Jesus that will draw in people of all sorts.
Then will come a gathering from the gathered to build the cities of Zion. This will not happen very quickly as hoped for by many believers.
Consider that we are over 2000 years away from the gatherings predicted in the Bible and it’s been almost 200 years since first taught by Joseph Smith and yet we do not have one established Zion society. Even so, many keep deluding themselves that all will happen within the next few years – its always just around the corner.
Seekers of Zion must start thinking of the long term, instead of expecting instant change engineered by God Himself.
We have been given the basic instructions concerning what Zion is supposed to be and God does not like to keep repeating Himself. It is up to us to take the ball and run with what we have before we can expect more.
THE ZION SOCIETY, Part Nineteen
Linking Heaven and Earth
There is one more possibility for a new land on which to build a new Zion society free of external control.
Within the next 150-200 years we can expect some fairly dramatic earth changes causing some major disruptions. Some existing lands will be submerged and others will rise. If, in the midst of such chaos, the Zion societies are prepared then they may be the only people ready to move to the new land ready to create a government there. I would suggest they call it “New America” since this would create gathering opportunity similar to the first America.
And why would the cities of Zion not be destroyed by the disruptions?
“And the earth helped the woman (Zion) , and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood (opposition) which the dragon (enemies of Zion) cast out of his mouth.” Rev 12:16
The earth is a living entity and decides to cleanse itself every now and then. When it does it preserves benevolent souls who are gathered and destroys those who are harmful to its life as mentioned in the scriptures:
“that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Rev 11:18
Periodically, the earth destroys them that cause destruction upon it, but will help and preserve those who are harmless as it is written:
“Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved.” I Nephi 22:17
It will be a difficult yet rewarding path to the building of Zion and will take longer than most believers think. We must do more on our own of our own individual initiative than has been generally thought. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. When we do all we can on our own then we become deserving of divine assistance and not before.
In the meantime, what can one do who desires to be a laborer for Zion?
(1) He can study the various efforts being made, where free will is preserved, to gather and create a people of one mind.
(2) The believer needs to assess himself and ask himself if he feels a personal call to assist in the creation of Zion. If so, he must check with the Spirit to see what he should be doing in the immediate future.
(3) All who have Zion in their hearts need to be currently make an effort to communicate with others of a like mind to themselves and form relationships. In addition to doing this in the flesh, we now have the Internet to assist us in this endeavor. Then, when an obvious ensign is lifted, those who are ready will recognize it and respond.
To pave the way for a gathering of the pure in heart who are of one mind and heart a number of things must take place.
Outwardly, much of it will be done by freedom loving people who are not on any particular spiritual path. They will help pave the way for gatherings on the internet, on land and on the seas.
On a more spiritual level something that must take place will be the creation of a seed, or seed group that is capable of sprouting and growing into Zion. This seed group will correspond on a later turn of the spiral to the Twelve who were selected by Jesus, who on the day of Pentecost were so in tune to the Spirit that they were one mind and became linked to the Christ and the powers of heaven.
The seed group today will consist of not just twelve men, but twelve males and twelve females which correspond to the twelve ancient ones before the throne. (Rev 4:4) When such a seed group can be gathered and all see through the eyes of the Spirit and become of one mind and heart then a new Pentecost can happen and heaven and earth can be linked and Zion can have its true beginning in this cycle.
I have written an entire book explaining the principles that will enable a seed group to make this happen. It is called The Molecular Relationship and is available free HERE
“When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his
Copyright by J J Dewey
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