Friday, September 14, 2007

The Ninth Commandment Thesaurus

As I shuffled papers on my desk this morning and rechecked some remarks in emails and on various message boards, I found, to the point of amusement, that we have many ways to obscure the word "lie." We are masters of the art. I say we, because I freely confess to an occasional falsehood (please note the absence of the actual word, lie.) Any married man who can answer the question, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?” without a violation of the commandment is either a fool, or else, blessed with an extremely trim spouse. Without looking, I routinely answer my wife in the affirmative and it has become a family joke. Rarely do the pants actually contribute to the appearance of “looking fat.”

Like all the commandments, the ninth is unambiguous: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (Gen. 20:16) The Bible does not speak to error, misunderstanding, or bad information. We all clearly know what it means. If you know the truth and then tell another tale, it is false witness, i.e. lying. I do not apologize if the word offends. God tells us clearly that He is offended by the action and He commands us not to do it. In my opinion, I see more violation of this commandment than possibly any, other than the first.

I often hear the excuse; “It’s for the greater good.” Yeah, right! For the greater good for God or for the greater good of the speaker is the next logical question. If God saw any “good” in it, I doubt He would have included it in His commandments. If you see the commandments on a sliding scale of importance then you might say it’s number nine and dismiss its importance. Therein you trivialize the importance to Him.

In scripture, and especially the entire Restoration canon, how many calls do we see to verification by several witnesses? We put great stock in the testimony of the “three witness.” Given the command not to be false, we are then left with—true. Upon this premise we treasure the Book of Mormon. We also accept the Doctrine and Covenants and its revealed word for the same reason. On that sound platform, I also accept your testimony and the revealed experiences of others speaking in the spirit based on the day-by-day observation of your obedience to the ninth commandment. It is this common thread which allows us to share our encounters with the Lord at all levels.

When I catch someone in a lie, and it’s all too frequent, I feel the affront as a wound. When I hear it from a fellow saint, or worse, priesthood, I grieve! What affect must it have on God? In the course of repentance, I have acknowledged to Him those occasions of false witness with fear and trembling. I should! I well know the promises which follow repentance and His promise of forgiveness and “to remember it not,” but do I wish to face the final judgment with my memory of these offenses? I trust Him to keep his covenant. I can only pray that my repentance is sufficient that He can see me keeping my end.

One demonstration of the near universal popularity of holding the ninth commandment in contempt is the sheer number of words used to describe the activity. With very little research I easily came up with 66 nouns, 91 verbs and 47 adjectives as synonyms for lie or false witness. Do you think you find as many for covet? Kill? Steal? Who knows? Some of these substitute words imply a measure of degree, which I question. You can put lipstick on a pig, but, you know the result. I do think I have heard nearly all of these weasel words when confronting someone with an untruth. “Well, it was just a little white lie so I wouldn’t hurt your feelings.” “Puhleeeze!” I am a big grown up boy now and I can take it. Tell me the truth.

Do not forswear, perjure, misstate, miscite, misreport, falsify, pervert, distort, disguise, color, exaggerate, palter, varnish, embroider, invent, fabricate, hatch, concoct, dissemble, feign, assume, pretend, simulate, or counterfeit the facts to make me feel better. If you don’t like something I write on this blog, fine, tell me straight. I might even take a lesson from it. If you do like it, tell me that also so I can get the big head. In the process, you may find God is immensely pleased that you are paying attention to His word. If you choose not to take this advice, you may find your baggage on the way to judgment just a shade heavier. I have personally decided that the minor pain of hearing and saying the truth are petty compared to having to answer for false witness.

In the confusion of competing organizational structure in the emerging hierarchy, a lot of issues are put forth, plans are made, and sometimes leadership lets their guard down. In the rush to qualify, occasional issues of a former life bob to the top. A former association may be viewed in some quarters as worthy while among others, it is despicable. In the distrust generated by the apostasy it behooves every man who would lead to be scrupulous in openness about his associations, both today and yesterday. As members, we need to know exactly what you believe today. It’s immaterial if you were wrong in the past. We all were somewhere along the line. What is important now is open denunciation of former ill-considered associations and doctrine. This is not a time for equivocation. It is time to stand foursquare for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of His church to achieve a Zionic condition of the people here and now. And that’s no lie.

In His abiding love

Cecil Moon

Thursday, September 13, 2007


It's eating me alive. It shouldn't be, but it is. For many reasons. A few weeks ago a woman stood up at prayer meeting and stated, "I didn't think I had a testimony tonight, but I do. " She then launched into a tirade about the laxity of the saints and the church in not baptizing the dead. Sections 107, 109 and110 should not have been taken out of the Doctrine and Covenants, and they certainly should be put back in, she declared.

Last year I was invited to join a class which is being taught by one of the ladies of the congregation, and of whom the above woman is an avid student. I attended two sessions. One of the reasons I didn't go back was for this very reason. In my research, I have not been able to find any evidence to support baptism for the dead, and I certainly cannot continue to attend a class taught by someone who not only pushes the agenda, but places Joseph Smith, Jr. on such a high pedestal that his humanity all but disappears. Recently some of this veneration of Joseph Smith has begun to creep into Sunday School class. That bothers me.

If the priesthood wants to allow these classes to go on within the walls of the church, fine. But when the teachings spill out into prayer meeting and Sunday School I don't think I can accept that.

Back to the prayer meeting and the tirade. After the woman sat down a very loud silence reigned. There were three priesthood members present. The presiding elder sat with a deer-in-the-headlights look. The other two were behind me and I couldn't see them. No one said a word. Not one word. Thirty seconds ticked by. The presiding elder announced the last hymn and the meeting ended, thanks be to God.

Now, I suppose a testimony can be either positive or negative; who am I to judge a testimony? Personally, I have never felt compelled to stand up and badmouth the church at a prayer and testimony meeting. But that's just me. I feel there are other venues for that, and goodness knows enough of that goes on. Maybe I'm naive, but I always thought, at least within the context of the RLDS/Restoration, that Wednesday night was supposed to be an uplifting experience, giving God the glory and praising His name. Maybe not. The only information I have been able to gather about the meeting itself is that there is to be no musical accompaniment to the hymn singing (D&C 119:6.)

So, what bothered me so much about this "testimony?" Was it the fact that I didn't agree with what was said? Maybe, although I've disagreed with other things that have been talked about there. Was it the fact that it wasn't a testimony but, rather, a tirade? Or the fact that it was such a shock, and an embarrassment to us all? I think what continues to eat away at me is that not one of the elders had one word to say about the inappropriateness of the speech. But maybe I'm wrong in assuming there is a time and a place for such things. I honestly don't know. I only know that the whole texture of the prayer meeting was changed by that incident. But, compared to what is going on in the rest of the church and the rest of the world, it's pretty small, isn't it?

Do I feel better now? Not really, but in time, I probably will. Will God take care of it? Yes. In His time and according to His will. Now all you priesthood types can come out and start telling me what a critical, ungrateful, unchristian wretch I am. Let the chastisement begin.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day of Remembrance

The primary purpose of Zion Beckons is to advance the teachings of Jesus Christ to promote a Zionic lifestyle. Our scriptures are filled with dire warnings of calamities which will befall those of us who ignore the words of God. We shudder with fear at the prospect of devastating earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters which will be the price of not heeding his Word.

When the people attempted to flee from Egypt, were the unbelievers subjected to plagues and terrors from an earth in upheaval? The plagues which subsequently came to impress the Pharaoh and the people were definitely natural but not the ones we are occasionally promised. They came cloaked as, when seen individually, seemingly innocent incidents. What is the problem with finding an occasional locust, frog, gnat or fly? When these are amplified, as only God can do, they become a plague. A little blood as a result of clumsiness is a minor matter; when the entire water supply is polluted it becomes a major disaster. It took Pharaoh a long time to get the picture. Even to the end, he didn’t fully understand.

Do we believe the adversary is not capable of delivering a plague? Does he take time off from his deviltry to relax and enjoy his many accomplishments? Just looking back on my own history of temptation and sin, I see him active 24/7. Even though my resistance level has been enhanced by the presence of God in my life today, I still see evidence of the offerings of Satan. The point is to recognize evil regardless of how it is clothed. This brings me to discuss the primary evil which threatens us today as a nation.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the most devastating attack on American soil in history by a foreign enemy. My age works against popular feeling today as I recall the events of December 7, 1941. I also recall the absolute dedication among our people to avenge the death and destruction wrought on that day. We, as a people, were unprepared but committed to return peace to a world stricken by fanatical enemies. We were unashamed to call upon Almighty God to aid us in the cause. And, aid us He did.

In the early forties, every American could easily identify the enemy and could also understand what personal sacrifice was necessary to enable their defeat. Today, I believe, we are engaged in a far more titanic struggle. We face an enemy who outnumbers us by a factor of five to one. We face an enemy who has a creed which offers us three alternatives; conversion, enslavement or death. We face an enemy who enjoys (?) a birthrate of 4.1 as opposed to our 2.1. In a war of attrition, we lose! We face an enemy who enjoys the sympathy of our media, many clergy, and, in some cases our elected leaders. This enemy has a name: radical Islam.

As usual, we suffer again from that old bugaboo, category error. We have set the blame for our struggle everywhere but where it really belongs: radical Islam. Some claim we deserved our fate six years ago. Others blame a war mongering president. Still others say it’s all about oil. Hogwash. It’s about over a billion (that’s with a B) people who choose to profane their holy book and read in it a recipe for disaster for the free world. They abhor the one nation which still preserves the God given liberties to man in its Constitution. Having never experienced it, they can not enjoy freedom. Oppression is natural for a people who treat women as chattel and rig sixth graders with explosives to commit suicide. This is not some amusing third world culture with a few crazy ideas. It is, rather, over a fifth of the world’s population bent on our absolute destruction. Place the blame where it truly belongs: radical Islam!

Even casual readers of our scriptures are familiar with the strife believers in Jesus Christ have endured. They are also familiar with God’s ability to ennoble certain men as leaders and battlefield commanders to achieve His ends. We are not alone in this enterprise. He is with us if only we can recognize the enemy. Peace, harmony, and “love” have a nice ring but they do not typify those words required to prevail over the vilest enemy we have ever faced. We need, especially on this “Day of Remembrance”, to rededicate ourselves to the defeat of that which God deplores. This satanic enemy has a name; use it! Radical Islam.

In His abiding love.

Cecil Moon

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (3)

The past week has been a pleasure. The C.P. message board has calmed down and the name calling, personal attacks, and screaming have lessened to an acceptable level. It will never disappear. It is good that folks defend their research and concepts of their relationship with God with such fervor. However, it is always distasteful to see them resort to attacks on persons in lieu of logic and scriptural inquiry.

Since this is a rant, let me please ask everyone to open their bibles to the last page of the text. At the top of the two columns what does it say? I’ll help you with this. It plainly says REVELATION 23! It is singular, not plural. There is no S! There never was an S! There will never be an S! What in the world is it that prompts members and priesthood alike to assign this unnecessary S?

The very first sentence makes the matter clear. “1. The Revelation of John, a servant of God, which was given unto him of Jesus Christ things which must shortly come to pass, that he sent and signified by his angel unto his servant John.” It is not a series of revelations; it is one, to one man, by one Author. People constantly refer to the “mysteries” so I guess this must be one. Like many impediments to clear speech, this is probably attributable to curtailed reading skills, carelessness or just plain laziness. Stop it! Thank you.

Speaking of words, is it possible that God doesn’t understand twenty-first century English? Yours may not but mine does. He would understand my prayers if I rendered them using some obscure dialect of Mandarin Chinese.

One of my favorite movie lines, from a “great” film, which title is long forgotten, still lives in my memory. Ma and Pa Kettle are seated with a large family at a groaning table of food and she nods at him to offer the blessing. He starts with: “Well Sir, as You can see, we have plenty . . . .” He then recounts in folksy terms a brief inventory and they eat. Some might be offended by the prayer but I can’t imagine that God is impatient with anyone, no matter how uncultured, who takes the time and the will to offer thanksgiving to the Provider of all things which we treasure.

This prompts the question of whether private and public prayer should differ. When I listen to public prayer I hear a constant refrain of thee’s and thou’s. In most cases these pronouns are used incorrectly both in number and implied respect. Current usage in English, especially in America the land of liberty and equality, makes no built-in distinction of class or position in the use of the pronoun, you. We ask the dog, “Do you want to go out?” We ask the president, “What were you thinking on immigration reform?” In either case there is no difference because of status. We are constantly reminded that, “God is no respecter of persons.” Since the differences between "thee" and "thou" are solely one of respect or intimacy and, the prayer is directed to God, why not acknowledge that He doesn’t differentiate? If we don't use these words and use the pronoun "you" instead does that make us disrespectful? I don't think so. Does He not know our hearts? I would rather use 'You" and "Your" correctly than "Thee"and "Thou" incorrectly.

I experienced this form in association with tourists from Germany. On more than one occasion I was asked why I consistently used the respectful sie (you) instead of the more familiar du (you). I replied that du was used with children, dogs and lovers and inappropriate for seasoned adults for whom I had tremendous respect. Although they pleaded that we were good friends first, they did appreciate my respectful attitude. Keep in mind that this construction was in the normal language usage of their society. I truly believe that the reason they were not offended by my usage was because they realized I knew the difference. Dual pronoun situations are common in Europe. In France it is the vous and the familiar tu. Personally, I favor the democratic use of one pronoun for second person singular.

As you know by now, I am a cynic. I believe God. I believe His Son, Jesus Christ and I abide by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Past Those, I am ever on the alert for those who would clothe their speech in prayer to impress those who hear the prayer. I believe God created the universe and everything in it. Therefore, and our Mormon brethren out west would disagree, I believe Him to be capable of understanding my pitiful prayers not only for me but for thee and thou.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon