Saturday, December 31, 2011
For many years I have pondered on the nature of the relationship between the FLDS people and their leaders. Some say that the critical "fork in the road" occurred in the early 1980's. There was a dispute at that time over whether or not each member of the council of the the twelve held the same authority as the president, such that at the passing of the president, the senior member automatically assumed the position of president. Apparently, some leaders abandoned this formula and dismissed the pivotal revelation given to Wilford Woodruff in 1880 on this very topic. This caused the ideological split. This was the genesis of the "One Man Rule" leadership model - the seedbed for a hierarchy utterly controlled by a monolithic dictator - a Jeffs.
I have struggled at length with other caring observers to figure out where to point the finger of blame for the current crazed state of affairs. Is Warren Jeffs truly to blame? Jeffs is culpable for his own integrity lapses. He is guilty of a litany of abuses. He is the epitome of a terrorist. He takes wicked delight in toying with his victims. He is a true psychopath. He is like some of the hater-harpies - he is blithely complacent about destroying families. More importantly, however, he would not be able to get away with any of his perverse manipulations if it were not for several thousand people who think that simply by virtue of the fact that he occupies the station of church president, he is somehow imbued with divine investiture - the steward of God on earth - the "PROPHET".
Brigham Young spoke often and adamantly about the importance of not abdicating one's free agency to some corruptible mortal church leader person. This was one of the fundamental tenets of Mormonism. I shudder to think that modern adherents, mainstream and FLDS alike, have undergone such an ideological metamorphosis that their religion is no longer akin to the gospels restored through Joseph Smith. In one short generation, thousands of honorable saints have turned into lemmings, merely as a result of a doctrinal diversion.
Warren Jeffs is doomed to suffer long and greatly. He has caused untold pain to many honest, decent people. What, however, is the fate of the obsequious sycophants who have been trained from birth to do whatever they are told to do by their megalomaniac, lunatic leader? I hearken back to the idea that God Himself is partly complicit. He knew perfectly well before He put those pre-mortal spirits into those Short Creek FLDS embryos that they would be raised in a unique and ultimately bizarre environment. This was part of the plan - the moral test. These good, honorable souls are faced with a crucial choice - choose true principle or a false doctrine and its false prophet. As the lunacy crescendos, each one must weigh the options and measure the pressures against the promptings of the Spirit and the bedrock teachings in revealed scriptures. Like it or not, the inevitable train-wreck of this community is just around the corner. One can only hope that the latest in Jeffs' wacky antics will trigger an awakening - a personal epiphany for many. Surely many, many of the people are scratching their heads and wondering why things are getting so strange - why they have to part with their pets and tricycles and now their children. Even now, people are vanishing. Maybe, when the Apocalypse fails to occur a half an hour from now (midnight 12/31/2011), some will wonder if the prophet is false after all.
I'm sure cult experts have written volumes on how difficult it is to break free from the tyrannical psychological clutches of a religious dictator. To my way of thinking, the hardest part would be facing up to the realization that virtually your whole life has been based on a religious distortion, and that you let yourself get slowly sucked in because your were afraid to lose your job or your home or your wives and kids. This was the wizardry of the Jeffs incumbency - he kept you in the dark - people were told only the bare minimum of what they needed to know. Jeffs controls access to information. He threatens you with the forfeiture of your salvation (not even doctrinally feasible). He even controls the local police. He conspires with his brothers to execute his dictates. His control is political, financial and religious - a dangerous combination.
No matter where you ascribe the culpability, many of these townsfolk are innocent. They are just trying to survive and please God. When this sick house of cards comes crashing down, there will be an immense humanitarian crisis. Tonia Tool (Holding Out Hostages) is all over the news, clamoring for the castaways to come into her lairs. The crisis will not so much be one of food and lodging, moreso a crisis of faith - one that the hater-hags cannot remedy.
The gospel dispensed to Joseph Smith was pure at its source. Despite his immense significance in the history of this planet, he was a mortal man. All of the gospel dispensations (except Enoch's) were doomed to crash and burn. Attributing perfection to a mortal is foolhardy. The restored fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of the Father are perfect in principle - they are the "baby" that must not be "thrown out with the" Jeffs "bathwater". That is the essence of the humanitarian crisis.
Are you in a position to offer the right kind of assistance?
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