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I would love to speak at youth or adult firesides on the subject of "Making The Restoration Real In Our Lives." Contact me at rcb1820@gmail.com

I hope I wasn't prescient about Donald Trump

Four years ago, I wrote about the fearful rise of a Donald Trump-type candidate in my book, “The Mormon Grail.”  His name was Senator Marcus Stanley, and I described his bombastic approach thusly: “Stalking around…and flailing his arms, Stanley used his fierce oratorical skills to denounce the administration….”

 

Using the slogan “America First!” (sounds like “Make America Great Again’) he organized a mass political movement to pull the country out of another Great Depression. (“Nobody cared about Stanley’s checkered past nor his controversial views on non-economic issues like race and religion.”)

 

During the party’s convention, Stanley thundered “Our nation has been betrayed by greedy internationalist businessmen and corrupt politicians…. “He stormed around the stage with a portable microphone, gesticulating forcefully to underscore his key messages. He pounded away at the need for change while not giving any specifics.” He announced he would demand Congress give him emergency powers to implement his program “to get this country back to work.”

 

Here’s why I pray I wasn’t prescient: Stanley gets elected in a landslide and engineers a military coup after a series of terrorist bombings, becoming “America’s first dictator.” Worse yet, he sets up a network of clandestine “black camps” to “re-educate” anyone who disagrees with him, including the young Mormon prophet Joseph Smithfield.

 

When I wrote about a Stanley presidency, it seemed implausible verging on impossible – but Stanley seems to have come alive in the person of The Donald. “The Mormon Grail” is available on Amazon.com or at my website, mormongrail.com 

 

 

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Enoch's Hope -- How a Prophet succeeded in getting God to change His mind about a bad policy (a second Great Flood)

And how that applies to the Church's policies toward the LGBTQ community. If Mormon leaders truly love their gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender members, they should emulate Enoch, "who would not be comforted..." until he secured the safety of the human race.

For the sake of discussion, let’s accept LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson’s contention that the Church’s policies toward homosexuals and gay marriage are “the will of the Lord” as revealed through revelation. End of discussion? Hardly.

 

In the Church’s own sacred canon and history, there are instances where prophets have successfully pleaded with the Lord to alter His divine “will” out of love for His children. Most notable is the Prophet Enoch, father of Methuselah and grandfather of Noah. He was able to persuade God not to send a second Great Flood to destroy the earth.

 

According to the LDS Pearl of Great Price, Enoch was taken into heaven where he saw God “weeping” over the wickedness of the world. The Father’s tears turned to anger and he lamented “… behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them, and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them….”

 

God showed Enoch the Great Flood that would cleanse the world – but that his grandson Noah and his family would build an ark and survive. Even so, Enoch “had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren….” The Pearl of Great Price account says that Enoch refused “to be comforted….” During the conversation, the prophet “wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled as wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.”

 

Enoch exacted a promise from the Lord that Noah and his seed would be protected and “the earth might never more be covered by the floods" (after Noah). “And the Lord could not withhold, and He covenanted with Enoch and sware unto him an oath, that he would stay the floods….”

 

Like Enoch, Elder Nelson and his apostolic cohorts need to plead with the Lord to “stay” the Church’s current policies toward homosexuals because they are so detrimental, even contributing to rising suicides among Mormon LGBTQ youth.  Do the brethren feel “bitterness of soul” and weep over these departed ones? Do they refuse to be comforted until the Church of Christ embraces gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people as equal sons of daughters of God? Do their bowels “yearn” until all eternity shakes? Are their proclamations of love more than lip service?

 

I believe God will listen if they go to Him in faith and mighty prayer, just as He listened when President Wilford Woodruff pleaded for an end to polygamy to save the Church from financial ruin; and when President Spencer Kimball went to Him with deep concerns over the discredited policy of denying the priesthood to Black men.

 

Let’s pray the current church leaders have the faith of their prophetic forebears and refuse “to be comforted” about a bad policy  -- because so many lives depend on it.

 

 

 

For the sake of discussion, let’s accept LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson’s contention that the Church’s policies toward homosexuals and gay marriage are “the will of the Lord” as revealed through revelation. End of discussion? Hardly.

 

In the Church’s own sacred canon and history, there are instances where prophets have successfully pleaded with the Lord to alter His divine “will” out of love for His children. Most notable is the Prophet Enoch, father of Methuselah and grandfather of Noah. He was able to persuade God not to send a second Great Flood to destroy the earth.

 

According to the LDS Pearl of Great Price, Enoch was taken into heaven where he saw God “weeping” over the wickedness of the world. The Father’s tears turned to anger and he lamented “… behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them, and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them….”

 

God showed Enoch the Great Flood that would cleanse the world – but that his grandson Noah and his family would build an ark and survive. Even so, Enoch “had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren….” The Pearl of Great Price account says that Enoch refused “to be comforted….” During the conversation, the prophet “wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled as wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.”

 

Enoch exacted a promise from the Lord that Noah and his seed would be protected and “the earth might never more be covered by the floods" (after Noah). “And the Lord could not withhold, and He covenanted with Enoch and sware unto him an oath, that he would stay the floods….”

 

Like Enoch, Elder Nelson and his apostolic cohorts need to plead with the Lord to “stay” the Church’s current policies toward homosexuals because they are so detrimental, even contributing to rising suicides among Mormon LGBTQ youth.  Do the brethren feel “bitterness of soul” and weep over these departed ones? Do they refuse to be comforted until the Church of Christ embraces gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people as equal sons of daughters of God? Do their bowels “yearn” until all eternity shakes? Are their proclamations of love more than lip service?

 

I believe God will listen if they go to Him in faith and mighty prayer, just as He listened when President Wilford Woodruff pleaded for an end to polygamy to save the Church from financial ruin; and when President Spencer Kimball went to Him with deep concerns over the discredited policy of denying the priesthood to Black men.

 

Let’s pray the current church leaders have the faith of their prophetic forebears and refuse “to be comforted” about a bad policy  -- because so many lives depend on it.

 

 

 

For LDS people of conscience struggling with the Church's new LGBT policies.

There’s a question – really a plea – circulating on the internet in the wake of the Church’s “clarified” and highly discriminatory policies toward married homosexuals and their children: “What should I do if my conscience tells me these policies are wrong?” Many folks are considering simply leaving the Church they love, egged on by intolerant members.

I would beg these concerned members to consider another option – the time-honored mechanism of “conscientious objection.”  It’s a route I’m taking because I can’t ignore my conscience again. I can’t stand by, morally mute, while good people are discriminated against for religious reasons; while people of conscience in the Church are shunned and vilified for speaking up; and most of all, while people I love are accused of committing “grievous sins” and labeled as apostates for choosing to be married. Some wonderful young people have committed suicide out of despair.

 

I don’t want their blood on my hands.

 

In the name of love, the Church has declared that children of gay parents may not receive a baby blessing nor be baptized until age 18. Even then, these children must officially repudiate their parents’ “lifestyle choices” in order to serve a mission. I can’t stand by while this happens, like the “Good Germans” who looked the other way while their Jewish friends and neighbors were hauled off to the death camps.

 

My conscience won’t let me. I did it 40 years ago, when I ignored conscience and cowardly stood-by while good people spoke against the policy prohibiting black men from holding the priesthood. It was a soul-searing experience that informed much of my subsequent life and activity within the Church. I’ve waited four decades for the opportunity to repent of my moral failure.

 

This time I’m speaking up for a beautiful woman I know personally. She’s served an LDS mission and eventually accepted she was gay. According to the Church, her “same-sex attraction” was not a sin as long as she didn’t act on it. But then she found a wonderful partner with children from a prior marriage, and they were married when it became legal in Utah. They were thrilled to enter into a committed, monogamous, legal relationship and enjoy the institution of marriage. But, under the new policies, they had committed a “grievous sin” and become apostates, and Church discipline would be mandatory. These two women are considered worse than adulterers, murderers, pedophiles and other truly grievous sinners for whom Church discipline is optional. (Fortunately, they are not involved the Church now and not subject to the Inquisition.)

 

I hope people with an active conscience find this as intolerable and outrageous as I do. We’re not dealing with some abstract theological concept here.  These are “goodly” people labeled as apostates for committing an act of love, for living authentically with their divinely imbued sexual orientation, and for believing in the importance of marriage. There’s another face I can put on the faceless persecuted LGBTs: a son or a daughter’s. Would I, as a loving parent, tell my gay child that he or she must go through life alone, without the possibility of marriage or physical compansionship, because of Church policy? Of course not.

 

Defenders of the Church’s discriminatory policies toward gays frequently use the same rationale that we heard regarding the Negro Doctrine: “We must follow the brethren even if they’re wrong.” It’s the ultimate litmus test of faith, where institutional loyalty trumps individual conscience. But that’s not what Joseph Smith believed: “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.” (Joseph Smith Jr., Millennial Star, Vol. 14, Num. 38, pp.593-595)

 

So for a century, Church members faithfully went along with General Authorities who cited arcane scriptures to justify overt bigotry. Negroes, they intoned, were somehow “less-valiant” in the pre-existence, “fence-sitters” in the great struggle over the Plan of Salvation. Residues of that horrific thinking plague the Church even today.

 

But, finally, one General Authority – President Spencer W. Kimball – dared question the Negro Doctrine after seeing first-hand the misery and turmoil it caused in Brazil. Missionaries were having to go back three or four generations to determine if a potential male convert had any traces of African blood, which would disqualify him. from holding the priesthood. Talk about indefensible! President Kimball also reportedly had read papers questioning the provenance of the prohibition, and I’m sure he heard the quiet pleas of many Saints asking for its lifting. True, President Kimball approached the Lord in private, but by inference he did “question” President Young and “the brethren.” And – voila! – the revelation came extending priesthood to all worthy males. I get angry when members say the Lord arbitrarily decided to lift the prohibition in 1978; he hadn’t imposed it in the first place, being “no respecter of persons.” How I wish it had been extended to all worthy members, but that’s another discussion.

In retrospect, I believe the revelation came when enough members and leaders decided that obeying the Second Great Commandment – loving our neighbors as ourselves – also applied to black men. What blessings are in store when we apply the commandment to women, minorities, LGBT people and all God’s children.

 

Before going further, I need to offer a disclaimer: Elder D. Todd Christofferson said members are free to disagree with the Church as long as they don’t attempt to garner public support for their position. Let me be clear: I am in no way advocating any course of action or response. I’m just pleading for people to listen to their conscience as well as to the Brethren. And I want people to understand there are alternatives for constructive dissent. The zealots among us would shout “Just leave!” and “Good riddance!” (in a Christ-like manner, of course). However, there is another possibility – declare yourself a “conscientious objector.”

 

The term “conscientious objection,” according to the Church-owned Deseret News, refers to a refusal to participate in military service because of moral or religious opposition to war. While the Church

The News said conscientious objection “is an appropriate term anytime conscience conflicts with the performance of societal mandates and duties. The society that genuinely cherishes freedom of conscience should expect and accommodate more, rather than less, conscientious objection,” the paper said.

Does the term “society” include religious societies as well? I have little doubt the Church “cherishes freedom of conscience,” so shouldn’t it “accommodate more, rather than less….” The 11th article of faith states: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.” I believe Joseph Smith would appreciate, even applaud, the concept of conscientious objection.

 

In that Spirit – and following “the dictates of my own conscience” – I submit several possible types of conscientious objection in response to the Church’s policies toward the gay community:

1. Meet with the Bishop and express your concerns. Information flows up the chain of command. I’m sure Church leaders are carefully monitoring members’ reactions to the new policies.

2. Voice your support for pro-LGBT organizations and anti-discrimination laws, just as the Church has done. Consider joining and donating to organizations like Affirmation, which is a powerful voice for LGBT individuals and their friends and families.

3. In public prayers, ask the Lord to guide the leadership of the Church without referring specifically to the policies.

4. Remind members to read the Church essays on tolerance and religious freedoms.

5. Go out of your way to welcome gay couples and their children to church, even if they have been excommunicated. Don’t remain silent if well-meaning-but-insensitive members make insensitive or inappropriate comments in Sunday School or other meetings.

6. During the annual ward conference, either abstain when asked to sustain the brethren or raise your hand in opposition. You'll  probably be invited to discuss your action with your Bishop.

7. Consider carefully whether you "in good conscience” can respond affirmatively to the temple-recommend question about sustaining Church authorities with regard to anti-gay policies. 

These alternatives are preferable to going inactive or simply leaving because conscientious members can do much more good with their mere presence inside the Church.

 

A good friend of mine once paid me the ultimate compliment after I recounted my angst about the Negro Doctrine: “Your problem is that you love people too much.” And that love extends to my LGBT brothers and sisters.

 

There’s a question – really a plea – circulating on the internet in the wake of the Church’s “clarified” and highly discriminatory policies toward married homosexuals and their children: “What should I do if my conscience tells me these policies are wrong?” Many folks are considering simply leaving the Church they love, egged on by intolerant members.

I would beg these concerned members to consider another option – the time-honored mechanism of “conscientious objection.”  It’s a route I’m taking because I can’t ignore my conscience again. I can’t stand by, morally mute, while good people are discriminated against for religious reasons; while people of conscience in the Church are shunned and vilified for speaking up; and most of all, while people I love are accused of committing “grievous sins” and labeled as apostates for choosing to be married. Some wonderful young people have committed suicide out of despair.

 

I don’t want their blood on my hands.

 

In the name of love, the Church has declared that children of gay parents may not receive a baby blessing nor be baptized until age 18. Even then, these children must officially repudiate their parents’ “lifestyle choices” in order to serve a mission. I can’t stand by while this happens, like the “Good Germans” who looked the other way while their Jewish friends and neighbors were hauled off to the death camps.

 

My conscience won’t let me. I did it 40 years ago, when I ignored conscience and cowardly stood-by while good people spoke against the policy prohibiting black men from holding the priesthood. It was a soul-searing experience that informed much of my subsequent life and activity within the Church. I’ve waited four decades for the opportunity to repent of my moral failure.

 

This time I’m speaking up for a beautiful woman I know personally. She’s served an LDS mission and eventually accepted she was gay. According to the Church, her “same-sex attraction” was not a sin as long as she didn’t act on it. But then she found a wonderful partner with children from a prior marriage, and they were married when it became legal in Utah. They were thrilled to enter into a committed, monogamous, legal relationship and enjoy the institution of marriage. But, under the new policies, they had committed a “grievous sin” and become apostates, and Church discipline would be mandatory. These two women are considered worse than adulterers, murderers, pedophiles and other truly grievous sinners for whom Church discipline is optional. (Fortunately, they are not involved the Church now and not subject to the Inquisition.)

 

I hope people with an active conscience find this as intolerable and outrageous as I do. We’re not dealing with some abstract theological concept here.  These are “goodly” people labeled as apostates for committing an act of love, for living authentically with their divinely imbued sexual orientation, and for believing in the importance of marriage. There’s another face I can put on the faceless persecuted LGBTs: a son or a daughter’s. Would I, as a loving parent, tell my gay child that he or she must go through life alone, without the possibility of marriage or physical compansionship, because of Church policy? Of course not.

 

Defenders of the Church’s discriminatory policies toward gays frequently use the same rationale that we heard regarding the Negro Doctrine: “We must follow the brethren even if they’re wrong.” It’s the ultimate litmus test of faith, where institutional loyalty trumps individual conscience. But that’s not what Joseph Smith believed: “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.” (Joseph Smith Jr., Millennial Star, Vol. 14, Num. 38, pp.593-595)

 

So for a century, Church members faithfully went along with General Authorities who cited arcane scriptures to justify overt bigotry. Negroes, they intoned, were somehow “less-valiant” in the pre-existence, “fence-sitters” in the great struggle over the Plan of Salvation. Residues of that horrific thinking plague the Church even today.

 

But, finally, one General Authority – President Spencer W. Kimball – dared question the Negro Doctrine after seeing first-hand the misery and turmoil it caused in Brazil. Missionaries were having to go back three or four generations to determine if a potential male convert had any traces of African blood, which would disqualify him. from holding the priesthood. Talk about indefensible! President Kimball also reportedly had read papers questioning the provenance of the prohibition, and I’m sure he heard the quiet pleas of many Saints asking for its lifting. True, President Kimball approached the Lord in private, but by inference he did “question” President Young and “the brethren.” And – voila! – the revelation came extending priesthood to all worthy males. I get angry when members say the Lord arbitrarily decided to lift the prohibition in 1978; he hadn’t imposed it in the first place, being “no respecter of persons.” How I wish it had been extended to all worthy members, but that’s another discussion.

In retrospect, I believe the revelation came when enough members and leaders decided that obeying the Second Great Commandment – loving our neighbors as ourselves – also applied to black men. What blessings are in store when we apply the commandment to women, minorities, LGBT people and all God’s children.

 

Before going further, I need to offer a disclaimer: Elder D. Todd Christofferson said members are free to disagree with the Church as long as they don’t attempt to garner public support for their position. Let me be clear: I am in no way advocating any course of action or response. I’m just pleading for people to listen to their conscience as well as to the Brethren. And I want people to understand there are alternatives for constructive dissent. The zealots among us would shout “Just leave!” and “Good riddance!” (in a Christ-like manner, of course). However, there is another possibility – declare yourself a “conscientious objector.”

 

The term “conscientious objection,” according to the Church-owned Deseret News, refers to a refusal to participate in military service because of moral or religious opposition to war. While the Church

The News said conscientious objection “is an appropriate term anytime conscience conflicts with the performance of societal mandates and duties. The society that genuinely cherishes freedom of conscience should expect and accommodate more, rather than less, conscientious objection,” the paper said.

Does the term “society” include religious societies as well? I have little doubt the Church “cherishes freedom of conscience,” so shouldn’t it “accommodate more, rather than less….” The 11th article of faith states: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.” I believe Joseph Smith would appreciate, even applaud, the concept of conscientious objection.

 

In that Spirit – and following “the dictates of my own conscience” – I submit several possible types of conscientious objection in response to the Church’s policies toward the gay community:

1. Meet with the Bishop and express your concerns. Information flows up the chain of command. I’m sure Church leaders are carefully monitoring members’ reactions to the new policies.

2. Voice your support for pro-LGBT organizations and anti-discrimination laws, just as the Church has done. Consider joining and donating to organizations like Affirmation, which is a powerful voice for LGBT individuals and their friends and families.

3. In public prayers, ask the Lord to guide the leadership of the Church without referring specifically to the policies.

4. Remind members to read the Church essays on tolerance and religious freedoms.

5. Go out of your way to welcome gay couples and their children to church, even if they have been excommunicated. Don’t remain silent if well-meaning-but-insensitive members make insensitive or inappropriate comments in Sunday School or other meetings.

6. During the annual ward conference, either abstain when asked to sustain the brethren or raise your hand in opposition. You'll  probably be invited to discuss your action with your Bishop.

7. Consider carefully whether you "in good conscience” can respond affirmatively to the temple-recommend question about sustaining Church authorities with regard to anti-gay policies. 

These alternatives are preferable to going inactive or simply leaving because conscientious members can do much more good with their mere presence inside the Church.

 

A good friend of mine once paid me the ultimate compliment after I recounted my angst about the Negro Doctrine: “Your problem is that you love people too much.” And that love extends to my LGBT brothers and sisters.

 

What is the "Mormon Grail"?



            The Mormon Grail takes readers on a dangerous, DA VINCI CODE-like journey involving an ancient artifact that could shake the religious world.

            The “Mormon Grail” – like the legendary “Holy Grail” – is believed to have MIRACULOUS powers. The artifact affects people in different ways – turning some into thieves and murderers while providing others with TANGIBLE EVIDENCE OF GOD’S EXISTENCE.

            The Mormon Grail is an alternative retelling of the AMAZING SAGA of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), complete with visions, ANGELS, SEER STONES, the “Urim and Thummim,” MIRACLES, persecutions, insect plagues, handcart treks, atheistic dictators and the coming forth of a NEW SCRIPTURE on par with the Bible.

            Readers are taken to “God’s Valley” – so named by federal agents because it’s the home of Cyrus Davidson, a charismatic CULT LEADER who says he is the Messiah, and Joseph Smithfield, who claims to SPEAK WITH DEITY and translate records of LOST CIVILIZATIONS inscribed on gold plates. Readers will also go to a second “God’s Valley” in a sweltering Mexican jungle, where “legend-keepers” guard a treasure that MEN WILL KILL FOR.

            The Mormon Grail is historical fiction with a twist – it’s INSPIRED BY REAL people and historical events that are moved into a contemporary time frame. It will appeal to general and Mormon audiences – to anyone, really, who LOVES RELIGIOUS FICTION like The Da Vinci Code, The Name of the Rose, and the The Clowns of God.