Harlot and the Beast

“And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.”
(Revelation 17:16)

This one verse makes a mess of a common interpretation of the seven-headed beast and the harlot. That interpretation being that the last head of this beast is the Roman Catholic church and that the harlot is also the Roman Catholic church. How can the harlot and beast be the same entity if the one hates the other and destroys it?

It’s easy to see why many are convinced that the harlot is the Roman Catholic church. In scripture the Church of God is often referred to as a woman and an apostate Church as a harlot. The Catholic church is an easy target since it is the largest of the Christian churches and it is very wealthy. Not only that, but they are guilty of much bloodshed from their inquisition days. So it may be easy to picture her being drunk on the blood of the saints.

As for the beast, it’s argued that the 6th head was the Roman Empire and that the 7th head was the Roman Catholic church, which came to power after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Both of these ideas can’t be true and maybe neither is.

Let’s take a closer look at the 7th head of the beast. The book of Revelation tells us that there are 10 horns on this head and that these kings have not yet appeared on the scene at the time John the Revelator received the vision. When we compare this with the gold-headed image in Daniel, we find that the final kingdom of that image is the feet, which has 10 toes, some made of iron and others of clay. The previous kingdom of this image is the iron legs which suggest a kingdom that was divided in half. Was the Roman Empire divided in half? Yes, it was divided over religious differences into the Western Orthodox (Roman Catholic) church centered in Rome and the Eastern Orthodox church centered in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey). The toes most likely get their iron from one or both of these factions. But where does the clay come from?

It seems logical to look for the clay in the nations that made up the first kingdoms of the image, since the imagery of both Daniel and Revelation implies that the final kingdom is a composite of the previous kingdoms. These nations are generally agreed to be Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece, and Rome. I already addressed Rome, so where are these other kingdoms today? Babylon is modern-day Iraq, Persia is Iran, and Greece is well Greece. What powers rule these countries? Iran and Iraq are governed by Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. The prodominent religion in Greece is Greek Orthodox, which is a flavor of the Eastern Orthodox (Catholic) church. Islam and Cathlocism, a strange mixture indeed! But is there any evidence of an alliance forming between these religions/nations? The Prophet Muhammad indicated that the Muslim nations would make an alliance with a somewhat ambigious nation named Rûm. The popular Sheikh Imran Hosein identified Rûm, not as Rome, but as the fallen Byzantine Empire which used to be centered in Constantinople. However he says the religion of this empire (the Eastern Orthodox church) is now centered in Moscow, Russia. So he’s expecting a Russian/Muslim alliance in the not too distant future. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the close economic/political ties between Russia and Iran in recent years.

I’ve identified two potential Eastern Orthodox nations (Russia and Greece) and two Muslim nations (Iran and Iraq) who are likely members of the ten-toed kingdom of these latter-days. At present I don’t think I can identify the other toes with any confidence, although I suspect Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Pakistan are among them. Other European countries may even be involved, however, I think we can all safely forget the declining European Union being involved in this alliance.

If  the nations named are correctly identified as being part of the leadership of the final head of the beast, it should be relatively easy to identify who the harlot is. We just have to ask ourselves one question: “Which nation(s) do these four beast nations hate?” The United States is the obvious choice, but the Muslim nations also hate Israel and to a lesser degree Britain. We can certainly see how the population of the United States in general has lived an oppulent lifestyle compared to the rest of the world. The same is also true for many nations in Europe. In fact, it could be said that the reason for the United States’ wealth is because it rides on the back of third world countries (China, the Middle East, and South America). And she controls these countries through various economic means (sanctions, subsidies/loans, etc). Much of this is done through the World Bank, IMF, and the New York Stock Exchange. The book of Revelation also identifies the woman as a diverse city made up of many peoples and tongues, a city of trade and commerce. New York City is the natural match.

But how is the United States/New York City a harlot? You certainly couldn’t label this nation or city as belonging to any one church, although a large majority of the population of the United States still identify themselves as Christian, most of those being either Protestant (51%) or Catholic (24%). Interestingly in New York City, the demographics change somewhat, its population being 40% Catholic and 30% Protestant. Even if you can agree with me that both of these denominations are apostate, how could they be accused of being drunk on the blood of the saints? We could of course point to the inquisitions of the Catholic church, which no doubt have not been forgotten by God. However, those crimes aren’t specific to the United States. We do have one crime which continues to grow in popularity in the United States. Current statistics state that one out of every three American women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Could these unborn children be considered saints by God? This is certainly a possibility. As a Mormon, it is also my belief that the United States became guilty of shedding the blood of at least two saints when it allowed the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum to be taken by an angry mob. Not only that, but many other Mormons lost their lives when they were driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois by similar mobs. Many of them died in the harsh trek westward to Utah. Lastly, it’s a well known fact that the United States government was involved in the extermination of many Native Americans through war and the intentional spread of disease. Do you think a just God has forgotten these crimes against his people?


Do You Have the Holy Spirit?

The Dove of Peace

It’s pretty much useless to read the scriptures unless you read them with the same spirit that inspired the authors to write them, namely the Holy Spirit. As a follower of Christ, it should be the goal of every Christian to have the Holy Spirit with them always. This is impossible to do unless you know how to tell if you have the Spirit. So how do you know? The easiest indicator is your feelings. Are you happy? Are you at peace?

“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.”
(Mosiah 4:3)

If you are feeling anxious or angry or any other negative emotion, you most likely have lost the Spirit. So, how do you get it back?

“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.”
(3 Nephi 9:20)

Having our hearts broken is the natural consequence of losing something we desire. This is what happened to the poor people who Alma met that were “cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel.” (Alma 32:2) Alma said something rather interesting to this group of people:

“And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.  And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?”
(Alma 32:13-15)

Here we see that it is possible to humble ourselves without being “compelled.” Alma tells us that those who do so are “more blessed” than those who don’t. Why do you suppose this is? Alma’s words seem fairly stern to a group of people who had lost everything. They were poor and destitute of wealth and had just lost the last thing that they loved: their place in the house of worship. While it’s obvious that Alma had sympathy on these people, he also let them know that if they had humbled themselves earlier, they would have been better off in the long run. The Christian writer C.S. Lewis put it this way:

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

So why do we often wait to repent when we know that the sooner we turn to righteousness, the sooner God can bless us? If God is not blessing us, do we take our sorrows to him? And are we willing to accept the solution he offers, even if it doesn’t make sense? This is what it means to have a contrite spirit. It means you realize that you made a mistake and you’re willing to ask God what you should do to change. But not only do you ask him how you should change, but you actually attempt to change or repent.

If we have this humble attitude towards God, the Spirit will draw close to us and we will feel the peace and joy it brings. If we make a habit of running to the Lord when we’re feeling out of sorts and then implementing the changes he inspires us to make, the Spirit will attend to us more and more until at last we become holy as our Father in Heaven is holy.


Families Without Fathers

I lost my father at the age of two. He died prematurely of a stroke. As a teenager I came to conclude that maybe fathers didn’t play all that important role in a family, after all I turned out ok without one, didn’t I? It wasn’t until my mid-20s when I realized how the lack of a father had negatively impacted my development into manhood. Even though, like a normal working-class teenager, I began working entry level jobs at the age of 16, I never found any job I could stay with for more than a year. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a hard worker. Probably every employer I had would tell you that I was. I just was easily bored and after I had mastered a job, I felt no inclination to continue and would bail at the earliest opportunity. Needless to say, this sort of job hopping didn’t lay a good foundation for a solid career later. So I drifted and drifted like a boat without an oar. In retrospect, I wonder how many years of my life could have been saved if I had a father to point out to me the shortsightedness of my thinking (these kind of “harsh” talks aren’t consistent with the role of mothers). But it wasn’t just my career that could have used a father, but my relationships as well. Even though I’d been taught by my mother to treat young ladies respectfully, I didn’t have a concrete example, having never seen any husband/wife interactions between my parents. Not having a role model to pattern my behavior after, I behaved awkwardly and often ungentlemanly towards several young ladies. Not that fathers would make all interactions between boys and girls go smoothly, but they do at least give the boys examples of how to behave, which is a lot more than what I had. Again, I was a boat without an oar. Maybe you can now see why I firmly believe that fathers are of the utmost importance in the development of sons (not having been a daughter, I cannot comment on that with any degree of experience).

Not having a father and aspiring to be one, I began looking for a role model. Naturally as a Christian, the first character I look to for guidance is Jesus, he being the perfect example for us all.  Surely if “the family” is as important as the LDS church claims it to be, then Jesus would give us a perfect example of what it is to be a father. And yet if you search lds.org for any hint of how Jesus behaved towards his wife and children, you will find absolutely nothing. Why is this? Didn’t Jesus have a wife and children? If not, doesn’t this undermine the LDS claim that the family unit is central to eternal happiness? If Jesus didn’t have a need for a family, why do we? Very puzzling.


In Pursuit of Righteousness

Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you. (Hopi saying)

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it;”
(Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church, 5:134-5)

“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness.”
(2 Nephi 2:13)

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
(Matthew 6:31-33)

Man was designed to be happy. However, “if there be no righteousness there be no happiness.” Therefore if man is ever to be happy, he must first learn to be righteous. Righteousness is a big word and what it entails is even bigger.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
(D&C 130:20-21)

You might get the impression that God allows us to pick and choose which laws we would like to obey and blesses us accordingly. However, what isn’t stated here is that there is also a cursing attached to every law for disobedience.

“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
(Luke 12:48)

Obviously willful disobedience will be more severely punished than ignorant disobedience, but even the ignorant receive some form of punishment. Remaining ignorant isn’t an option for those seeking happiness, because by not knowing the law they not only won’t be blessed, but they will be cursed to some degree as well. Throughout time, God has preserved his written law so that man would always have access to the laws and the blessings/cursings attached. If man chooses to remain ignorant of those laws, he bars himself from the happiness found in obedience.


‎The New and Everlasting Covenant

I did a search in the D&C for the word “covenant”, since it is the book of Doctrine and COVENANTS. I could only find 3 covenants.

1) Baptism
2) Marriage
3) Consecration

This is the fulness of the Gospel, is it not? Aren’t all other commandments just auxiliaries to these? According to the D&C, the fulness of the gospel is in the the Book of Mormon (D&C 20:9). The Book of Mormon speaks of all of these covenants. Especially baptism, but consecration can also be found:

“And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.”
(4 Nephi 1:3)

Certainly the covenant of consecration is elaborated on much more in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments. And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and CONSECRATE of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken. … That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people.”
(D&C 42:29-30,36)

“For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;”
(D&C 78:6)

“But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.”
(D&C 49:20)

“…I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it…”
(D&C 45:9)

Most Christian churches already have baptism and marriage. The thing that makes Mormonism unique is consecration. That must be the everlasting covenant which the Gentiles will seek. It is the covenant most spoken of in the D&C.

“…it is expedient for my servants … to be bound together by a bond and covenant that cannot be broken by transgression…”
(D&C 82:11)

Could it be that Brother Joseph was given the key to escaping the economic woes of our time? Can you think of any better insurance policy than that of your brothers and sisters in God?


Exerpts from H.D. Thoreau's "Walden"

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away.

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.

Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.