Miscellaneous Musings #8 Sunstone Symposium 2014

 

I have just experienced three days of nostalgia by attending the Sunstone Symposium. (Warning- It is late so my spelling will be even worse than it usually is…)

My first experience with a Sunstone Symposium was in 1991 when I attended Sunstone for the first time and listened to a presentation by Ogden Kraut. Ogden Kraut (who has since passed away) was one of the most prolific writers and promoters of LDS fundamentalism.

I had become friends with Ogden back during that time frame. Mrs. Watcher and I had had Ogden and his 2nd wife Anne Wilde over to our home for a fireside and had compared notes with them.

It was a sweet surprise to see Anne at the symposium. She was walking up the Isle during the “Moderating Mormons in Cyberspace” panel so I grabbed her and reintroduced myself to her. We had a great moment doing a little reminiscing with each other about the past.

I introduced Anne to my son and she asked him if he had read any of Ogdens books. He informed her that he owned the book Ogden wrote titled the “95 thesis”, or something like that. As I recall, the book does a great job of pointing out the similarities between how Catholicism and Mormonism both eventually departed from scripture. The 95 doctrinal problems that Martin Luther nailed on the door of the cathedral were a type and shadow of the doctrinal changes that had taken place in Mormonism. One year, Mrs Watcher and I gave the book to everyone we knew as a gift for Christmas. The book did such a good job of alienating our friends and relatives that we did not even need to hand out gift the following Christmas because we no longer had any friends. LOL

Ogden’s presentation at the Sunstone Symposium back in 1991 was on the topic of the “One Mighty and Strong” which originated, in modern revelation, from a letter sent from Joseph Smith to the Saints in Zion. A portion of the letter has become canonized as scripture in section 85. The following passage from section 85 is the primary theme that Ogden Kraut addressed in his presentation:

And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God”

The Davidic Servant

We often think of the “One Mighty and Strong” as the “Davidic Servant” however there are numerous other prophetic terms and phrases that are often associated with the last great servant that will set the church in order to prepare it for Zion. Included among these are, the “one like Moses” and the last “Elias“, “the Branch servant“that is mentioned in Isaiah 11:1, (Zech 6:12), “his hand” Isaiah 11:11, “My Servant” referenced in Isaiah 42:1, 49:5, etc., etc.

Much of the content of Ogden’s presentation was taken from a book he wrote on the topic. (by the way, Bill Shepard, co-author of Lost Apostles, who also participated in a wonderful session at this recent Symposium, “, has also written about the One Mighty and Strong)

Back in 1991 Ogden agreed with me that Joseph Smith is the “one mighty and strong”. He agreed that the parable of the redemption of Zion in Section 101, provides an unconditional prophecy about how Zion is going to be redeemed once the light shines forth among those that sit in darkness. It also identifies Joseph as the lead servant that redeems Zion.

Anyone that truly wants to know how Zion is going to finally be redeemed can know how this is going to take place if they believe in the literal interpretation of the unconditional prophecies received by Joseph Smith, and have the faith to believe these unconditional prophecies about this upcoming epic event.

Section 103 is a follow up revelation to the parable of the redemption of Zion in section 101, that informs us that:

“..the redemption of Zion must needs come by POWER; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel.”

 

The Strong Man Model

 

The Holy Word of God  informs us that the Lord is going to use a “strong man” approach to establishing Zion just as he did in the days of Enoch. The term “strong man” typically refers to a person that has “great physical strength” and often “rules” using “force” and sometimes even “violence”.

 

In the scriptural and prophetic narrative, the servant of God is demonstrating miraculous, supernatural powers and leads a military conquest.

 

In the case of the one mighty and strong, this mighty servant of the Lord will be showing forth the fulness of priesthood power like Moses, Enoch and Melchizedek manifested. Enoch represented a prophetic strong man type when he was going forth in power, resulting in the establishment of Zion (BTW Section 103 reminds us that Jesus Christ will personally return with the servant(s) of the Lord’s vineyard as well. )

 

 

The parable of the redemption of Zion informs us that God’s servant will lead a military strike and will break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen

 

The Lord is going to use a man that is commanding the elements and showing forth the great miraculous power found in the fulness of the priesthood. This power will be similar to the power manifested by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Bondage. (The bondage the ancient Children of Israel were in pales in comparison to the bondage we are in today, and yet, few people even know that they are in bondage!))

 

Section 103 informs us that the servant of the Lord that returns in power to redeem Zion AFTER “many days” and after the enemy has “broke down the hedge” and literally “destroyed their works and broke down the olive trees“, is none other than Joseph Smith.

 

Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you.

 

According to the unconditional prophecies contained in the word of God, Joseph Smith must return and complete the gathering of Israel and the redemption of Zion. (see also Isaiah 49) This is why the Lord declared that the keys of priesthood would remain with Joseph Smith in this world and in the next, because Joseph’s calling was not completed during the second watch:

 

“Thus saith the Lord, verily, verily I say unto you my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers and the prayers of thy brethren have come up into my ears.

 

Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keysof the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.

 

Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come;”

 

Of course we have many scriptural witnesses that Joseph will return. One of the more notable ones is found in the allegory of the Olive trees in the book of Jacob. I have blogged about this before and broken the allegory down into the different time frames. Regarding the return of the Lords servant who had previously done a work in the vineyard, we read that the Lord of the vineyard sends this servant back to the vineyard again:

 

“And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.”

 

I have also discussed how the Lord has revealed, by name, who 15 of the other servants are from the 2nd watch that will return with Joseph to “gather up the strength of the Lords house“, and fulfill the prophetic commandment of the Lord in section 101 etc.

 

Break down the Hedge… destroy the works..

 

If you don’t understand what it means to break down the hedge and destroy the works that the Lords servants were overseeing in the parable of the redemption of Zion and the allegory in Jacob, I would suggest that you do a little research to see just how dire our current situation is in the church, and how desperately we need the divine intervention that has been prophesied about.

 

Integrated into your search, I would suggest considering that the tower was the Nauvoo temple (or possibly Nauvoo House- Temple) which was never finished… that fleeing from the enemy represented the leadership leading the saints in many different directions from Nauvoo despite the fact that they had been commanded to not be moved out of their place.

 

Lastly, I would suggest that the breaking of the hedge has to do with loss of the remaining priesthood the saints had in Nauvoo, and that the act of having their “works destroyed” had specific reference to the failed attempt to redeem the dead. Clearly, the works for redeeming the dead and all associated works, came to no avail and were destroyed. Note the associated warning given in section 124:31-33

 

“But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

 

But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.

 

For verily I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house to me, wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me..”

 

Lots of Wannabes

 

Ogden Kraut was perhaps the most famous polygamist in modern Mormonism. He had people flying in from all over the world to consult with him and to have him perform their polygamous sealings.

 

CLAIMANTS TO THE TITLE

 

As a result of his high profile and his down to earth willingness to speak with anyone about the gospel, all of the crazy delusional wing-nuts in the LDS fringe would meet with him, so he was well connected to a lot of people.

 

During his Sunstone talk in 1991, he mentioned that he had personally known countless delusional people that had all been visited by angels and by Christ. Each of these pathetic individuals declared themselves to be the “one mighty and strong” and the “one like Moses”. Kraut also pointed out that many people had claimed that calling in the early years of the restoration movement following the death of Joseph Smith.

 

According to Kraut, the following people were among the most noteworthy “mighty ones” of the deluded, from the past until Kraut’s talk in 1991:

 

  • James Strang
  • James Brighouse
  • Samuel Eastman
  • Paul Feil
  • LeRoy Wilson
  • John Tanner Clark
  • Benjamin LeBaron
  • Joel LeBaron
  • John Bryant
  • Elden Hollis
  • Sherman Russell Lloyd
  • Frank Miller
  • Jasper No. 7
  • Art Bulla (Art is the fellow that initially agreed to debate me about the polygamy and the spiritual wife doctrines, claiming he had never lost a debate. Sadly, he didn’t lose the debate with me either since he was a no-show)
  • Alonzo Langford

 

Since the passing of brother Kraut, there have arisen a few other notable colorful personalities that suffer from delusions of grandeur. One is Christopher Nemelka. Another is Jim Harmston, who I personally knew.

 

The Time of Joseph’s return must be Near

 

I always sit up and take notice when well meaning people begin bearing their testimonies that the “one like Moses” has arrived,  or, “there is a new prophet in town”.

 

When someone rises up claiming to have a message from God and/or claiming to have been commissioned to lead people to Christ, or show people how to redeem Zion, or set the church in order, etc., I take note because Joseph Smith revealed that the devil would be setting up a part of his kingdom and sending his false prophets at the same time the true kingdom of God was ready to go forth:

 

Here is an excerpt from the discourse:

“..In relation to the Kingdom of God–the devil always sets up his Kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God,–every man who has a calling to minister to the Inhabitants of the world, was ordained to that very purpose in the grand Council of Heaven before this world was–I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that grand Council–“

Another excerpt is as follows:

“..false prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets, and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones–“

We often think of the coming of false prophets when we think of Matthew 24 because it clearly speaks of the role of false prophets at the time when the light once again shines forth during the last generation. But Joseph Smith used the German Bible to show that Matthew 24 also testifies that a TRUE prophet would arise during the last generation as well:

“..the Savior said, when those tribulations should take place, it [the Gospel] should be committed to a man, who should be a witness over the whole world, the keys of knowledge, power, and revelations, should be revealed to a witness who should hold the testimony to the world..”

In the discourse, Joseph alludes to the fact that it is he, Joseph, that is the one that is to be the holder of keys that is to be a witness over all the people. He also alludes to the fact that he, Joseph will be the angel flying in the midst of heaven, spoken of in the book of Revelation:

“..all the testimony is, that the Lord in the last days would commit the keys of the Priesthood to a witness over all people–has the Gospel of the Kingdom commenced in the last days..

I have read it precisely as the words flowed from the lips of Jesus Christ–John the Revelator saw an angel flying thro’ the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, &c.”

Joseph Smith then lists the signs that will be taking place when he, Joseph Smith , and his associates return to the vineyard:

  • wars
  • famines
  • pestilence
  • great distress
  • judgments
  • false prophets

“.. the Scripture is ready to be fulfilled when great wars, famines, pestilence, great distress, judgments, &c are ready to be poured out on the Inhabitants of the Earth–John saw the angel having the holy Priesthood who should preach the everlasting gospel to all nations,–God had an angel, a special messenger, ordained, & prepared for that purpose in the last days–    (quoted Rev. 14-6 having the Gospel saying the hour of his Judgment is come.)

Joseph then prophesies that the man or set of men (false prophets) that have already set themselves up as the appointed servants to set the church in order, will lift their hands against God and his witness and, if possible, will deceive almost the very chosen ones:

 

Woe! Woe! be to that man, or set of men, who lift up their hands against God and his Witness in these last days.–for they shall deceive almost the very chosen ones–“

Joseph Smith taught that his return to the earth, to give his final testimony, would be accompanied by the rising up of false prophets who would deceive “almost” the very chosen” ones.

That is why I sit up and take notice when a new “One Like Moses” wannabe begins claiming that Christ and angels have commissioned him to bring a message about Zion, etc to this wicked world.

I have wondered if in fact the last great imposter would be a little different type of person than the typical ones that have risen in the past. Many of the ones in the past have been poor and lowly types with relatively little money or worldly education. For this reason, they were not appealing to the wealthy or the highly educated intellectuals.

But what if a false prophet showed up, that was a highly educated and highly respected professional type that would be much more acceptable to the more sophisticated in today’s world?

What if he were a doctor or a lawyer that was a great thinker and eloquent orator with great confidence and charisma?

What if he began challenging God’s word on how Zion was going to be established and yet he was so smooth and persuasive that he could convince people to discard the truth so clearly laid out in the word of God?

What if his main emphasis was a “how to” see the Savior instead of warning EVERYBODY to REPENT and receive the true baptism?

When the light shines forth for the last time, everybody on the earth is going to need to repent and receive the true ordinance and start from the beginning with faith and repentance. It is impossible to use the false ordinances and doctrines of Mormonism as a springboard for getting the Second Comforter! The assumption that we don’t need to repent is critical for deluded people to think that they simply need to exercise faith and they can see God.

What if much of what this person is saying is not congruent with the true gospel found in the scriptures? Remember how all of Adam and Eve’s posterity quit believing the gospel Adam and Eve had taught them once Satan claimed to also be a son of God and told them to not believe?

 

And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.

 

And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.

(yes, that is right, Eve also preached the gospel to their posterity, not just Adam. Emma was also promised that she would be ORDAINED to preach the gospel: “And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit” (I point this out to keep all of the feminist stoners happy 😉  )

What if a successful, articulate, charismatic fellow came among the people and began preaching a different gospel and was able to mesmerize people into disregarding many of the true points in the scriptures by mingling selected passages with his own narrative?

What if he claimed that priesthood authority was not necessary to administer the ordinances of salvation even though God’s word teaches it is categorically necessary?

What if he began claiming that Zion would not necessarily be established in the designated places identified in scripture?

What if he challenged the strong man narrative so clearly laid out in scripture and convinced people to believe in a different protocol for establishing Zion instead of the protocol provided in the  word of God?

It is easy to get sucked into the belief that someone who is speaking to God is more credible than the lowly voice of warning coming from someone who simply quotes scripture, even though the person claiming to be speaking directly to God, is contradicting scripture!

What if he was to declare “A “strong man” model is the opposite of Zion” even thought prophecy teaches that Zion can only be established by someone endowed with power from on high?

What if he continued teaching the false doctrines that Joseph taught in Nauvoo, which contradicted the “thus sayeth the Lord ” teachings revealed during the Kirtland era?

We know that according to ancient prophecy, Joseph had his eyes covered, had the sins of latter day Israel placed upon himself and spoke “presumptuously”, delivering the Saints over to Satan for a little season which resulted in false doctrine being taught that contradicted the foundational doctrines, ie, the King Follett discourse completely contradicts Lectures on Faith. What if the false prophet foolishly continued teaching those falsehoods to tickle the ears of his hearers?

What if he denied that God is from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning of days or end of years and began teaching the heresy that there are other numerous numberless Gods above God the Father, even though the Father has declared that there is no other God beside him?

What if he could sway public opinion in his favor by getting highly popular LDS fringe bloggers to begin promoting him to their readers?

What if he was to write an impressive book detailing the problems with modern Mormonism, filled with doctrinal errors, and inaccurate historical dates and characterizations, yet was unwilling to respond to or acknowledge those specific problems when exposed by critics?

What if he were to question the historicity of one of the most significant and foundational visitations that took place during the LDS restoration movement?

Anyway, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the last great false prophet is much more palatable to the tastes of the scripturally ignorant, yet highly “educated” masses than his past predecessors… but I digress, I wanted to briefly share some brief thoughts and experiences I had at Sunstone.

I am not going to give a detailed analysis or even a summary of the content in the sessions I attended. Rather, I am simply going to randomly share a few impressions and thoughts that came to me while attending the symposium.

Moderating Mormons in Cyberspace

I enjoyed the “Moderating Mormons in Cyberspace” session. Of particular note, Andrew Spriggs was a bright, witty, engaging personality that was fun to listen to. It was also fun to see and hear from Rock Waterman of PureMormonism who is always quite outspoken.

Interestingly, John Hamer was sitting in back of me and I got to chat briefly with him. He was familiar with my blog and remembered chatting with me in the comments section of his Mormonstories interview. (John Hamer, Mike Quinn, William Sheperd and every other credible LDS historian all agree that Joseph Smith secretly practiced polygamy. The evidence is overwhelming. That is why the RLDS Church finally decided to reinvented itself and take their emphasis off of Joseph Smith. Yet some people still think there was a global conspiracy by Brigham Young to blame the practice on Joseph Smith even though he never practiced it.

During the free lunch sponsored by Signature Books, I randomly sat down by a guy in a crowd of several hundred people and started chatting with him… before long it occurred to me that he was one of my old online friends that used to comment quite a bit on my blog. It was fun to get to know him better and have a face to associate with a screen name! We picked several of the same sessions to attend because great minds think alike.

 

One of the best sessions I attended was the one titled “The Latter day Apostasy: A scriptural perspective” done by “Spek” (Joe Jensen) author of the Just and true blog. He did a SPEKtacular job. It was the only session wherein the scriptures were exclusively used as the foundational basis for what was being presented. It proved to be a novel approach for a Sunstone presentation.

“Sealing and salvation in early Mormonism: Perspectives on the law of adoption” was an interesting session wherein feminist Cheryl L. Bruno debated with polygamy enthusiast Brian C Hales about how the mystical law of adoption is supposed to work.

As you all probably know, after the death of Joseph Smith, the apostate apostles in Nauvoo started running around trying to seal as many men and women to themselves as possible thinking it would give them greater power and glory than their fellow apostles in the afterlife if they could recruit more people to be part of their own spiritual tribe. Brigham Young even called all of his sealed minions together and named them the “Tribe of Brigham”.

It was kind of like a multilevel marketing pyramid that was trafficking in souls instead of snake oil and money. Everyone was frantically trying to build their spiritual “down-line” in hopes of gaining more power and glory. The New Testament refers to the situation as a “strong delusion”.

I was amazed that both of the presenters have spent so much time and energy trying to figure out something that originated primarily from Brigham Young and yet, Brigham Young himself was clearly clueless about the concept and simply improvising to keep everyone in tow.

I found it interesting that both of these people conveniently neglected to mention the visitation Brigham Young claimed to have with Joseph Smith in a dream, wherein Brigham admitted that he and the brethren didn’t understand the concept and needed a little help understanding it.

During the Q&A I got up and asked both presenters o comment on the content of the dream in that I felt it clearly showed that Brigham Young was clueless about the law of adoption.

In the dream Brigham Young said to Joseph:

“The Brethren have a great anxiety to understand the law of adoption, or sealing principles; and if you have a word of council for me, I should be glad to receive it.”

Of course Joseph refused to dignify the question with a direct answer but instead told Brigham to tell the saints to be humble and faithful and to keep the spirit of the Lord…. bla bla…

Here is a post I wrote on the topic years ago

At the end of this session, I crossed paths with the notorious Jeremy Runnells who wrote the controversial Letter to a CES Director, so I took the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him that I enjoyed his paper. I then said with a smile, “I disagree with your conclusions, but I enjoyed reading your paper”. He smiled back and nodded his head and we parted in peace.

I enjoyed “Authors Meet Critics: The Lost Apostles”. My favorite historical takeaway from the book is how the first person called by the three witnesses to be a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles was Phineas Young, but Joseph intervened and replaced Phineas with his brother William Smith, who proved to be an embarrassment to himself and the church. Since Phineas was older than all of the other apostles, he would have been the president of the quorum and that would probably have very significantly changed the trajectory of the church and the outcome of the succession crises, etc! Had Joseph never interfered with those that had received the commission to choose the apostles, the church may well have never heard about blood atonement or the Adam-God doctrine or any of the other absurd heresies that BY introduced into the apostate church.

An unrelated but interesting historical issue that came up afterwards, while I was speaking to Bill Shepard- he informed me that the complete affidavits of Thomas B Marsh and Orson Hyde, were now available online. Here is the pertinent portion of the Marsh declaration that brought persecution upon the church and got them expelled from the state:

“… Hogs were brought in dead, but I know not how many; I saw only two. They have among a company consiting of all that are considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the Church in all things, that they say or do, whether right or wrong. Many, however, of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath, as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons that they had a meeting at Far West, at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the Destruction Company, for the purpose of burning and destroying; and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell, and committed depredations upon the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe; and if the people of Clay and Ray made any movements against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty and Richmond. This burning was to be done secretly, by going as incendiaries. At the same meeting, I was informed, they passed a decree that no Mormon dissenter should leave Caldwell county alive; and that such and that such as attempted to do it, should be shot down, and sent to tell their tale in eternity. In a conversation between Dr. Avard and other Mormons, said Avard proposed to start a pestilence among the Gentiles, as he called them, by poisoning their corn, fruit, &c., and saying it was the work of the Lord; and said Avard advocated lying for the support of their religion, and said it was no harm to lie for the Lord!! The plan of said Smith, the Prophet, is to take this State; and he professes to his people to intend taking the United States, and ultimately the whole world. This is the belief of the Church, and my own opinion of the Prophet’s plans and intentions. It is my opinion that neither said Joseph Smith, the Prophet, nor any one of the principal men, who is firm in the fiath, could be indicted for any offecne in the county of Caldwell. The Prophet inculcates the notiion, and it is believed by every true Mormon that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he should yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone, hew ould be a second Mahomet to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean; that like Mahomet, whose motto, is treating for peace, was ‘Alcoran or the Sword,’ so should it be eventually with us, ‘Joseph Smith or the Sword.’ These last statments were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adam-on-diahmon was between three and four hundred. “ Thomas B. March.

According to Shepard, Marsh was accurate in everything he stated and he never recanted anything in the statement. His sin was in telling the truth.

“Apologetic Ethics: Defending the Faith without Losing Your Soul”

In this presentation Seth Payne appeared to be encouraging LDS apologists to change their tone and strategy in how they debate with skeptics.

“Church Discipline: A procedural Overview

Nadine Hansen is a feisty attorney who wrote the legal brief for Kate Kelly which was submitted to her Bishop and Stake President. She did an eye-opening job of showing how the church violates their own rules of disciplinary procedure, let-alone the procedures provided in revelation. It was a great session.

Perhaps the most significant procedural takeaway is that the “judge” of the court is not supposed to be the “accuser” also, yet in Modern corporate Mormonism, the Bishop or Stake President that presides at the court acts as both judge and accuser.

Another session I attended which I cannot remember the name of, involved Paul Toscano and Mike Quinn. Although I think the world of Quinn as a credible historian, he presented a rather weak and illogical presentation on why people should stay in the church in my opinion. He claimed that the church facilitates us in serving others. He acknowledged that he could go volunteer at a soup kitchen, but he was too self centered and selfish to do so. He said he had never done such a thing and likely never would… Therefore, church membership is good because it helps people to be of service to others who are otherwise unwilling and unmotivated to be proactive in serving others….. Huh?

I could listen to Toscano nonstop because he is so funny, entertaining and relevant. At one point he said something to the effect of, “I wish the Twelve Apostles would simply go out into the world and preach the gospel as a traveling missionary quorum like they have been commanded to do. When they hang around Salt Lake, all they do is irritate people.” LOL, LOL, LOL

I attended a panel discussion on demanding financial transparency from church headquarters that was excellent. I was extremely impressed with everyone that participated on the panel. They were all very bight, passionate people who had done their homework. Obviously, they are pissing into the wind if they think the church will ever provide full transparency. How can a church that spends money on paid shills to influence public opinion be expected to provide transparency on how they spend their money?

The very last session I attended was “Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge” by Denver the Snuffer.

My first born son and Mrs Watcher were able to attend and it was very interesting. Snuffer is a gifted thinker and orator. He was providing historical context to how and why doctrine has changed in the past and why it will continue to change in the future based on social trends and potential threat of tax status.

He did a remarkable job.

I felt sorry for the respondent who tried to challenge the supposition Snuffer made that gospel fruits are no longer in the church. He felt that the church was being blessed by all of the special interest groups that are gaining acceptance and traction in the modern church… go figure.

As an added bonus to the session experience, Snuffer took off his “independent historical researcher who was giving a presentation at a symposium of liberal Mormons” hat, and put on his “prophet” hat during the Q and A.

A person asked a question that sounded something like: “why can’t we get a complete sentence from God when we pray to him?”

That was all Denver needed to begin proclaiming how he has been visited by God and angels. I don’t know if the person was a “plant” or if she simply felt inspired to ask the question, but that question gave Denver the opportunity to let everyone know that he has heard a complete sentence from God!

It was somewhat of a crowd-pleaser of a presentation in my opinion.

It would be interesting to know how many of the approximate 3oo attendees were Snufferites that follow him around in mindless adoration and how many of them were Sunstone “intellectuals” who were boredd and wanted to be entertained. My guess is about 80% followers and 20% Stoners… but that is pure conjecture.

I enjoyed my visit to Sunstone this year/ I am really glad I attended…  however, it may be another 23 years before attend another one. Perhaps I will attend again if Joseph returns and decides to speak there

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