September 28th, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm


photo credit: Honbless

A previous article I’ve written, "Prophetic Political Silence", continues to receive a steady stream of traffic to this day. I am often contacted by people expressing their gratitude for the ideas I expressed there—people who, like me, often wonder why our church leaders have largely (but not completely) grown silent in the cause of freedom.

While that article dealt more with practical particulars that might dictate why this shift has occurred, a friend of mine pointed me towards another influencing factor that has scriptural precedent. If the implications of the following examples are applicable to our day, then we are indeed facing some dark times ahead.

President Hinckley referred to the Book of Mormon in the following way, setting the stage for our analysis:

The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems.

I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras.

This summary statement is as powerful as it is frightening, when we use the book as a lens through which we can view the forces behind modern affairs, both foreign and domestic. But perhaps one of the most compelling lessons to be learned from this compilation of scripture comes from Moroni, who pleads with the reader to learn from the lessons of the past. After witnessing the systematic dismantling of his own nation, and after reviewing the same occurrence among the Jaredites, Moroni summarizies:

And [secret combinations] have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi. (Ether 8:21)

His plea—and God’s command—then follows:

Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. (Ether 8:24)

After proceeding to document the implosion of the Jaredite nation (but before relating the end of their story), we are then presented with a sermon on basic gospel principles: faith, hope, and repentance. What is interesting is the correlation between this instance and the one found in the description of the Nephite society’s destruction. In his own book, Moroni almost repeats himself by inserting another sermon on faith, hope, and repentance. Whereas before it was the prophet Ether, here it is his father, Mormon. Both sermons were included after the people received their last prophetic warnings, and just before a recounting of their final destruction.

In a way, these sermons on core elements of the gospel seem almost like a calm before the storm. Whereas many Saints complain at the repetitive and elementary principles being taught over the pulpit, with this information in hand they might rethink their frustration. Perhaps the prophetic focus on faith, hope, and repentance is our calm before the storm, just as it was in the preserved record of the collapse of the Nephite and Jaredite societies. Taken as such, we would do well to heed the warnings that were previously given.

Suddenly, the bold political statements from decades gone by become not relics of the Communist-era past, but a relevant and prophetic warning voice for the future. Indeed, the very fact that these basic gospel principles are receiving such a heavy focus in recent conferences might be a warning voice in its own way, signifying that we must be spiritually preparing for what’s ahead.

19 Responses to “The Calm Before the Storm”

  1. Nathan
    September 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Beautifully written. I wanted to transform my blog into a pro-LDS blog but I love reading your blog posts & don’t think I could do any better. You always seem to touch on topics that are pressing on my mind. Thanks for utilizing your ‘talent.’

  2. Sarah N
    September 29, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    Have you seen the manual for RS and PH for 2010? It is called “Gospel Principles”. It will be used in place of the Prophet manuals we have been using in years past. Seems like a calm before the storm indeed.

  3. Connor
    September 29, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    Have you seen the manual for RS and PH for 2010? It is called “Gospel Principles”. It will be used in place of the Prophet manuals we have been using in years past.

    Yeah, and note that this a revised, existing manual.

  4. Krista
    September 29, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    I had a lot of that feeling with the more recent “simplify” talks from April’s Conference… as well as the theme (that at least I felt) of clinging to our Temple covenants and blessings for protection.

    We have an early Stake Conference (Jan ’10 – 4 months after this latest, instead of 6), too, and with everything else I’ve been feeling lately, it just kind of helps light that little fire under me … getting “back to basics,” in every sense of the phrase.

  5. rmwarnick
    September 29, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    This is why we have a separation of church and state in western civilization. So people who are pleased to call themselves “saints” don’t get to inflict their apocalyptic world views on the rest of us.

  6. Kelly W.
    September 29, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    After I first became aware of the extent of Secret Combinations’ control of our own government and governments of the world back in 2003, I have struggled with the idea of how our church leaders are seemingly unaware of the obvious control Satan has in directing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other military interventions showing the lust of empire (not to mention the obvious cover-up of 9/11).

    I wondered why the church was concentrating on core principles and not alerting us to the dangers of blind support of our corrupt government. After all, there were the examples of McKay and Benson and their outspokedness on world affairs. Seemed they had instead taken an “all is well in Zion” attitude instead.

    But, through the whisperings of the Spirit, and through study of current affairs, I came to the same conclusion that Connor has, that we have now passed the time when we can do anything to overcome Satan’s Secret Combinations. All that is left to do is ride out the storm. In order to ride it out, we must be thoroughly founded in the core principles of the Gospel.

  7. JHP
    September 29, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    This is why we have a separation of church and state in western civilization. So people who are pleased to call themselves “saints” don’t get to inflict their apocalyptic world views on the rest of us.

    Are you referring to global warming?

    You may be right, Connor, but it does seem like the Communist threat was a much bigger deal back then and easier to pinpoint than the political threats today. Then again, I wasn’t alive in the 60′s and 70′s so I’m not sure. I also think your points on the previous points have some merit. I guess we’ll find out whether we want to or not.

  8. Connor
    September 29, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    rmwarnick,

    This is why we have a separation of church and state in western civilization.

    Your comment shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the so-called “separation of church and state” (a tradition not based in this country’s founding documents, but rather is derived from one of Jefferson’s private letters). This separation is a one-way barrier, preventing the state from regulating or intervening in the affairs of churches. It by no means impedes churches from commenting on political issues, encouraging their members to get involved, or otherwise influencing social mores and public policy.

    So people who are pleased to call themselves “saints” don’t get to inflict their apocalyptic world views on the rest of us.

    Inflict? Nothing I have said here suggests my desire to inflict anything on you. Rather, it is a description of events that could be coming our way—outside my control or desire.

    I second JHP’s example, illustrating the utter hypocrisy of charging myself and others with “inflicting [our] apocalyptic world views” on others.

    JHP,

    You may be right, Connor, but it does seem like the Communist threat was a much bigger deal back then and easier to pinpoint than the political threats today.

    The quote attributed to Cicero that I mention in this post illustrates my concern:

    A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

    For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.

    The days of open Communism (big C) afforded a visible enemy against which to fight. Our days of communism (little C) are far more difficult, since the principles have worked their way into all sorts of political philosophies and programs. Rather than being attacked by a foreign enemy, we are being slowly rotted away from within—a reality that is much more difficult to 1) understand and 2) fight against.

  9. Kelly W.
    September 29, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    We had a member of the Seventy visit us for Stake Conference a week ago. His message was very subtle, but it was unmistakable. He talked at length on repentance and faith, and, just as most every member was bored to hear again about repentance and faith, he summed up his talk by saying – and this is almost word for word what he said – “The reason I talk so much about repentance and faith is because if we don’t repent and have faith in Christ, we won’t withstand the tough times that are ahead.”

    You can interpret that as you may, but it sure applies to Connor’s post.

  10. rachel
    September 29, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    Yikes. Sobering article.

  11. James
    September 30, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    Are you referring to global warming?

    LOL.

  12. John C.
    September 30, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    Ouch, Connor. Have my sighs no meaning?!? ;)

  13. rmwarnick
    September 30, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    That’s funny, comparing climate science with whatever the heck Connor’s talking about. Repent! The End is Nigh!

  14. James
    September 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    rmwarnick, If doomsday scientists aren’t trying to “inflict their apocalyptic world views on the rest of us” then I don’t know who is. But I digress.

  15. Jim
    October 3, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    I find the question that this article presents rather interesting and one that I personally have spent much time pondering. I often consider and ponder “Are we in the 30 minutes of silence?”

    My conclusion has been most probably yes. This however has led me to other questions. If this is that prophetic 30 minutes of silence why must it happen? Certainly in such a time of darkness we could all benefit from prophetic council from on high.

    To my mind there are more than a couple of possible reasons. The Lord does not wish to condem us, If the prophets spoke out many would seek to kill them, and other such ideas, being past warning, etc… All possibly have their points of accuracy.

    Another possibility, and the one I have dwelt on a lot of recent is that it is for the cause of Zion. You see when the Lord calls his people to Zion He will have need of a very select group to build it up. A group of people who would exhibit the traits of a prophet. It is during that 30 minutes of silence from heaven that the Lord’s people will have to prove that they are so intune with the spirit that they can receive personal revelation and act upon it, without compulsion or direction from his living oracles. This would then be a very clear reason why the direction we receive from the pulpit today are of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The spirit of revelation will come through the guft of the Holy Ghost and we can not make it work for us until we truely understand it’s role and purpose in our individual lives.

  16. loquaciousmomma
    October 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    I am not either agreeing or disagreeing with you Jim, I will say that I was strongly impressed with the numerous references to inviting the Spirit into our lives this conference weekend.

    It was the prevailing theme on Saturday for me.

  17. Marc
    October 9, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    A main theme in the BOM is that nations and people either repent or when they are ripe they get destroyed, either by famine or war or other means. America and the world are ripe in my opinion and as such we are very likely to see destruction come soon. Refer to Revelations 17 and 18 where it talks about Babylon the great and how it is destroyed in one day etc. This, I believe is a reference to the US and its future destruction (likely by nuclear weapons).

    Also read Isaiah 10 that explains much of the same event and refers to the King of Assyria who wreaks destruction upon America as “the rod of indignation against a hipocritical nation”.

    I have come to the realization that the BOM stories of the nephites and jaredites being destroyed for wickedness are true. The nephite prophets have warned us in our day that the same would be our fate if we dont repent. They were not kidding! This is real!

  18. Dude
    November 3, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    When it says “silence” it means just that. We receive good, sound, relevant doctrine and instruction twice a year from SLC. We presently can peaceably assemble for meetings (some have more meetings than others…sigh…). We have monthly publications with yet more doctrine and instruction. I hardly see this as a period of silence.

    What if the silence was really silence? What if communications with SLC were cut off? (powergrid, EMP) What if the prophets were murdered? (gosh, that’s never happened before) What if the gov’t got into things to a degree that we could no longer practice our religion as we wish? What if they shut down the temples? What if there was civil unrest to the degree that we could not openly practice our religion?

    I wonder what the “saints” might look like after a decade or two of that? A sifting? A method of bringing the Zion people to the forefront? Twenty-one years is so long to be without instruction! How could we abide that?

    With all the blessings we have of practicing our religion and hearing the words of our Prophets and Apostles, I don’t dare call this “silence.” Yes, I believe we have passed the point of no return in some arenas. But this to me hardly qualifies as the “silence” as spoken by the Revelator. I do not think they are related.

  19. Kelly W.
    December 20, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    During this past week, I listened to a talk by Elder Ezra Taft Benson which he gave at a BYU devotional. (This talk was downloaded from latter-day conservative’s website.) I was shocked to hear Elder Benson say that the Constitution is now hanging by its thread, citing many (then) current examples. At the end of the talk, he gave a call to the Elders of the Church to step forward now to save the Constitution.

    Previous to my hearing this talk last week, I had already been convinced that the situation with the Constitution’s last thread was real. But Elder Benson’s talk shook me somewhat because he, in very real language, told us to step forward and save it! Then, in retrospect I could remember back upon what has happened in history since the days of Elder Benson’s talk. The Elders of the Church have, in many ways tried to keep the Constitution from breaking, but in reality we must admit that the trend since his talk has not been to stabilize that thread, or to even strengthen that thread, but to realize this thread has at least weakened, if not already broken.

    I look at movements of some good people to restore Constitutional principles to our government – - such as the Ron Paul movement. We see with hindsight that the Ron Paul movement was literally crushed under the corrupt forces of media and the criticisms of people like Mitt Romney and John McCain and Obama. I am led to believe that a movement to regain our Constitutional roots is now hopeless.

    Today at church I was conversing with another ward member about last week’s Gospel Doctrine lesson – which was on being good citizens. I mentioned Elder Benson’s talk I was listening to during the past week, and how I think the time has now passed us wherein we might actually have any hope of halting or saving the Constitution, and how I thought we were within the time period of just waiting for some type of divine intervention (like the Second Coming?), and how our leaders have become very silent since Benson’s day on things like communism and Constitutional principles.

    My friend then gave me a very startling thought – a thought I think has real relevance. He said that we are just like the Jews. The Jews of Christ’s day overlooked Him, crucified Him, and are still, to this very day, looking for a Savior to come to them. He then said that the prophets back in Benson’s day made the call to step forward to rescue our Constitution, but we, like the Jews, have overlooked the warnings and calls, and are still, to this day looking for the proverbial hanging by a thread to still come. We naievly say to ourselves: “When the Constitution hangs by a thread, our prophets will warn us to act, and then we will!” But, our prophets have already proclaimed that to us, and we missed the mark and are now fooling ourselves thinking we still have some time.

    But I think we are already past the time, and are now within a period just like Moroni was. Moroni taught those same core principles that we are now getting from our Church leaders.

    We are surely within that 30 minutes of silence. In the Book of Mormon we read the prophecies of Nephi and Mormon and Moroni and can see that the Nephite prophets get to a certain point in their writings when they say the Spirit halts their writings because John the Revelator will write the rest of their vision in the Bible. I think we need to place added importance to John’s revelation because it tells us the rest of the story that Nephi, Mormon and Moroni started to tell us. We could all be enlightened to read Revelation chapter 18 again, to see where we might find ourselves right now within that 30 minutes of silence.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.