Archive for March, 2013

by Fred W. Anson
Here’s a challenge: Read through the following and try to guess who wrote it.

When It’s Love
Hey, everybody’s lookin’ for somethin’
Somethin’ to fill in the holes
We think a lot but don’t talk much about it
’til things get out of control, oh

How do I know when it’s love?
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever
Oh, how does it feel when it’s love?
It’s just somethin’ you feel together
When it’s love

You look at every face in a crowd
Some shine and some keep you guessin’
Waiting for someone to come into focus
And teach you your final love lesson, oh

How do I know when it’s love?
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever
Oh, how does it feel when it’s love?
It’s just something you feel together

Oh, when it’s love
You can feel it, yeah
Nothin’s missin’, yeah

Yeah, you can feel it
Oh, when it’s love
When nothin’s missing

How do I know when it’s love?
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever

Ooh, how does it feel when it’s love?
It’s just something you feel together, hey

How do I know when it’s love?
I can’t tell you but it lasts forever

When it’s love
Ooh, when it’s love
Hey, it’ll last forever

When it’s love
Give it up
We’re gonna feel this thing

When it’s love, ooh
When it’s love, baby
You can feel it, yeah

We’ll make it last forever
Ooh, when it’s love


Who did you guess?  Perhaps it was Blaise Pascal who I quoted in my last recontextualization article as saying…
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
– from “Pensees”

… after all the poem starts with, “everybody’s lookin’ for somethin’, somethin’ to fill in the holes” in true Pascalian fashion. 

Or perhaps, you thought of St. Augustine who wrote…
“Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee”
— from “Confessions”

… when you considered the lines that said, “You look at every face in a crowd – some shine and some keep you guessin’. Waiting for someone to come into focus and teach you your final love lesson.” Isn’t that how Augustine might have put it had he written in the English vernacular of 20th Century America rather than in 4th Century Latin?

Or perhaps when you considered the words, “how does it feel when it’s love? It’s just something you feel together,” you thought of Jesus Christ who said of His covenant relationship with those who believe in and live for Him, “Abide in Me, and I in you” (John 15:4 NASB) – that would certainly explain and make the recurring line, “it lasts forever” even more poignant given the fact that Christ also said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 NASB)

Yes, all these themes and ideas are certainly there – surprisingly there’s great depth in this simple yet powerful song.  I confess that I have listened to this song through tears on many an occasion since, for me, it echoes all these themes and resonates deeply within.  Here, try it for yourself:

Yes, folks believe it or not, this deep and beautiful song was written and performed by Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Sammy Haggar, and Michael Anthony – that is, to use the words of one reviewer, that “band of idiots” known to the world as Van Halen.

After all they’re not immune to the deeply seeded need that all humans have to know unconditional love and acceptance. Whether it’s a straight arrow, feet-on-the-ground world pastor  or a jelly brained, out-of-touch rock star we all feel this need – and clearly the guys in Van Halen do too.

Nor, apparently, is Van Halen any more immune to incorrectly diagnosing the “fix” as romantic love than anyone else is – as the video illustrates well. My hope and prayer for these guys that someday, somehow, the they “get” the wisdom of St. Augustine that  “our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”  Perhaps on that day they’ll join us in singing this song through tears of fulfilled joy rather than longing, despair, and confusion.

Clonmacnoise, the burial place of the last High King of Ireland

Clonmacnoise, the burial place of the last High King of Ireland

by Fred W. Anson
Christian Researcher, Richard B. Stout, has done extensive research correlating the alleged “Reformed Egyptian” characters on the plates that the Book of Mormon were “translated” from to Ancient Irish. The following questions and supporting evidence explain and summarize his case:

Q: According to Mormon History were the Anthon Transcript characters copied from the alleged Golden Plates?
A: Yes. We have documented evidence from Martin Harris, David Whitmer, and Joseph Smith that they were.

Q: Can a correlation between the Anthon Transcript characters and Egyptian Hieroglyphs be established?
A: No. Anthon was not a qualified “expert” and modern Egyptologists can find no correlation.

Q: Can a correlation between the Anthon Transcript characters and the Detroit Manuscript characters be established?
A: Yes. There are character for character matches.

Q: Since it has been established that the Detroit Manuscript characters are ancient Irish (thus resulting in near-complete translation of the document) what are the Anthon Transcript characters?
A: Ancient Irish.

Thus the following question/challenge/problem remains for Mormon Scholars:
If you accept Martin Harris’s assertion that the characters on the Anthon Transcript were copied from the Golden Plates, then how you explain why the Golden Plates were written in Ancient Irish rather than ‘Reformed Egyptian’ as Joseph Smith claimed?”

Supporting Evidence
Please consider these links between the Detroit Manuscript and the Anthon Transcript are compelling. This is from Richard B. Stout’s article “A Singular Discovery”:

Richard B. Stout

Richard B. Stout

“According to Mormon history, Joseph Smith, Jr. discovered a hidden, religious work in 1823. Facsimiles of the “unknown characters” in which the Book of Mormon was written were later copied and taken to “the learned.” One of the opinions sought was that of Dr. Mitchell of New York City. Earlier, secular history had also recorded the discovery of a hidden, religious work in 1823.

Facsimile pages were made of this book’s “characters,” which were also said to be “unknown.” They too were taken to “the learned”-one of whom was Dr. Mitchell. However, Joseph Smith did not discover what became known in the national press as the Detroit Manuscript. That honor went to Col. Abraham Edwards, a business partner of Joseph’s uncle, Stephen Mack.

Especially because of this family connection, it would appear likely that Joseph Smith used the details surrounding the Detroit Manuscript as a template upon which to construct his story of the Book of Mormon’s “coming forth.” Further, there is evidence which proves that events, names, places, and even controversial animals which appear in the Book of Mormon could have been borrowed from the writings of the well-known scholar identified in both accounts as Dr. Mitchell. Perhaps most startling of all, paleographic research indicates that Joseph may have copied many of the characters he had Martin Harris take to Dr. Mitchell directly from the Detroit Manuscript.”
(“A Singular Discovery: The Curious Manuscript, Mitchill, and Mormonism Part 1” by Richard Stout, The Evangel, Oct 2001)

In addition, Stout’s research has established an interesting correlation between the characters on the Anthon Transcript (which Harris claimed were characters from the Golden Plates) and the Detroit Manuscript (which turned out to be ancient Irish characters). He then validated this Irish correlation by extending the character comparisons out to other ancient Irish manuscripts.

Here are the exhibits from the article. Exhibit “B” has been excluded as it is only clear and relevant within the context of the article’s main text.


Exhibit “A”
This small sample of early modern shorthand above is from Jeremiah Rich’s 1673 New Testament. The reader will find more than fifteen different characters here which are also found in the “Anthon transcript.”

Exhibit “C”
The ogham code symbol on the left is from page 311 of the 14th century Book of Ballymote (the vertical line is merely a divider). The three symbols on the right are from the “Anthon transcript.”

exhib-dExhibit “D”
The highlighted symbol (left) of four dots below a stem line is from page 312 of the Ballymote manuscript. The “Anthon transcript” symbol to its right is from line four of the transcript.

exhib-eExhibit “E”
Naithair fria fraech (“Serpent through the heather”) ogham code letter on left Book of Ballymote, p. 313. Two of several similar “Anthon transcript” symbols on right.

So, again, I suppose the question that Mormon Scholars must address at this point is this:
If you accept Martin Harris’s assertion that the characters on the Anthon Transcript were copied from the Golden Plates, then how you explain why the Golden Plates were written in Ancient Irish rather than ‘Reformed Egyptian’ as Joseph Smith claimed?”

Even if you’re not an Egyptologist, intuitively it’s hard to see how “Reformed Egyptian” which allegedly looks like this . . .


“Reformed Egyptian” sample given to Martin Harris. These characters were allegedly copied from the Golden Plates that the Book of Mormon was translated from

. . . in any way correlates to Egyptian Hieroglyphics which look like this:


Egyptian Heiroglyphic Primer

And in their purest form like this:

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

And the research continues while this question remains to haunt us: Why was the Book of Mormon Written in Ancient Irish?

by Fred Anson
In a prior post, I introduced the idea of recontextualizing works of music pointing out not only how Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, and Fanny Crosby recontextualized the music of their day – some of it secular with no discernible religious roots – and turned them into songs of praise and worship, but how modern Christians have been doing the same thing with secular rock music.

I pressed this point further stating, “I confess a certain frustration when fellow Christians take diminish or take umbrage at the idea that unbelievers, with whom we share common life experiences not the least being “the human condition”, can find small echoes of divine truths within His fallen creation.”

Personally, I can think of no experience more common to the human condition than the deeply seeded need that all humans have to know unconditional love and acceptance.  Be it the silver spooned debutante or the beggar rummaging for his next meal in the trash we have all feel this need at some time, some place – perhaps you’re even feeling it now. I would go so far as to say that this may be the deepest most persistent need that human beings feel – and my observation is that it’s certainly the most common.

Now I suppose it will shock no one when I assert that most rock artists incorrectly diagnose the “fix” for this “hole in the soul” as romantic love.  However, as anyone who’s had their heart broken by a lover or spouse who left them will tell you, “That ain’t it!”

Nor can we find the fix in the love of parents for parents get old and die (as I type through my tears since both of mine have “passed”).  And I know from the 12-Step groups I’ve been in that a heartbreaking fact is that one of the things affected by the fall was the relationship between parent and child – as a result, some adult children are looking for healthy love from a broken parent that, sadly, may never come.

The fact of the matter is that human love simply won’t fill that hole in the human condition that it seems God has reserved for Himself.   As French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal said well:

 “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
– from “Pensees”

And though it was written from quite a different context[1] no song comes closer to expressing this crying need than this one . . .

Lover Reign O’er Me from the 1979 movie “Quadrophenia” 

Love Reign O’er Me
(Pete’s theme)
Only love
Can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea.
Only love
Can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers’
Laying in the fields.

Love, reign o’er me.
Love, reign o’er me, rain on me.

Only love
Can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky.
Only love
Can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high.

Love Reign O’er me.

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool cool rain.
The nights are hot and black as ink
I can’t sleep and I lay and I think
Oh God, I need a drink of cool cool rain.


… and I’m continuing to hope and pray that the composer of this classic, perhaps even inspired, song may someday know the peace, serenity, and love of God that I, Blaise Pascal, and others have found for himself some day soon.

Ethan-Russell_04(“Love O’er Me” by Pete Townshend was originally released on the 1973 album “Quadrophenia” by The Who) 

[1]  As Pete Townshend, the song’s composer once explained:
(strong language alert for those of you with sensitive ears and eyes) 
“‘Love Reign O’er Me’ is similar to ‘Drowned’ [editor: another song on the Quadrophenia album] in meaning. This refers to Meher Baba’s one time comment that rain was a blessing from God; that thunder was God’s Voice. It’s another plea to drown, only this time in the rain. Jimmy goes through a suicide crisis. He surrenders to the inevitable, and you know, you know, when it’s over and he goes back to town he’ll be going through the same shit, being in the same terrible family situation and so on, but he’s moved up a level. He’s weak still, but there’s a strength in that weakness. He’s in danger of maturing.” 
(from )

Click here or a more thorough analysis of Pete Townshend and his religious affiliation with Meher Baba.


“You know . . . it’s good to be the Pope!”
(which, of course, is why I’m resigning!)

by Fred W. Anson
The recent February 16th Mormon Reformation Day coupled with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI reminded me of  one of my old Mormon Expression blogs in which I made some pretty bold statements:

“…I see some good things in the LdS Church and I see even more in Mormon Culture. There’s also much – particularly in the former – that, in my opinion, is really, really bad and needs to change. Never-the-less I’m just crazy enough to believe that there must be a way to keep the good and jettison the bad…

However, to get there from here the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from my perspective, must reform. And THAT, at least for me, is still a work in progress. That’s to say, it’s a work in progress for me because while I think I have an idea as to what end state might look like, I know that I’m not alone in this vision and I find the ideas and thoughts of others often more interesting than my own – hence the need for ongoing dialog.”

At this point you’re probably wondering, “Sounds interesting but exactly what kind of  ’reform’ are we talking about? And what kind of ‘end state’ do you have in mind Mr. Smarty Pants?”

Fair enough.

What follows is a bit “yesterday’s news” since I’ve already posted it on the Internet a few times[1],  but never-the-less to get that “ongoing dialog” started I offer to you, for your consideration, my answer to the following question:

Q: If you were suddenly called to be the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what, if anything, would you change?

A: If I were “Mope” I would . . .
(that is, Mormon Pope – a la Stephen Colbert)

1) Boldly declare as a new key tenet of the church, “A group that claims to have the truth doesn’t lie!  From this point onward we will, without exception, be open and honest with everyone.”  To this end I would mandate that Gospel Principles Chapter 31: Honesty be strictly adhered to by all members of the LdS Church from the First Presidency on down – period.  That’s right folks, it ain’t just a public relations “front” or “escape hatch” for pushing back when people say that Mormons “Lie for the Lord” anymore more – it’s actually going to mean something!

2) Proclaim “Camelot II” and open up the Church Archives to all Scholars not just those who agree to write “Faithful” Mormon History.

3) Mission the Church Educational System with publishing truthful Mormon History rather than the white washed, spin doctored “Faithful” Mormon History that they currently publish.

4) I would offer to merge with the RLDS/Community of Christ[2] and as a result take the following actions:

* Declare Joseph Smith a remarkable man and charismatic leader but not a Prophet of God.

* Decanonize “The Pearl of Great Price” and admit that the papyri that the “Book of Abraham” was translated from are nothing more than copies of the “Egyptian Book of Breathings” that Joseph Smith used to retain leadership of the Early Saints and keep the movement going. In other words, he “lied for the Lord” for what he thought was a worthy cause.

* Decanonize both the LdS and RLDS versions of “Doctrine and Covenants” and reclassify them as historical records useful for better understanding Joseph Smith and the Early Church but nothing more than that.

* Declare the Holy Bible as the ultimate authority for the LDS Church and encourage members to use modern translations rather the inaccurate and antiquated 1611 King James Version of the Bible.

* Declare “The Book of Mormon” to be a fascinating work of 19th century fiction akin to, say “Pilgrim’s Progress” but not real history. This, of course, would decanonize it by implication.

* Declare that continuing revelation must be weighed against the absolutes of the Bible and rejected if there’s a contradiction and/or discrepancy – just as in done is today’s Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches.

* Declare Baptism for the Dead to be unBiblical and a colossal waste of time because it’s based on a corrupt interpretation of Paul’s tongue-in cheek parenthetical clause contained in I Corinthians 15:29.

* Declare the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods unBiblical as they directly contradict the Book of Hebrews (Chapters 5-7 in particular) and declare all such past and present endowments null and void .

* Release all endowed LdS from their Temple oaths and vows and encourage them to share their Temple experiences with the public so that all the silly rumors and speculations are dealt with once and for all. Oh, and whoever wishes to can feel free to remove their Temple Garments.

* Shut down the LdS Temple system since it was initiated primarily to cover up Joseph Smith’s secret polygamous marriages as well as a means of injecting Masonic teachings into Mormonism.

* Convert all LdS Temples to public meeting halls and wedding chapels. And declare that everyone is welcome at LdS Weddings regardless of sect, race, or creed. ALL are worthy!

* Apologize to people of color for the LdS Doctrine of, “The Curse of Cain” and state that the racist passages in the Book of Mormon are reflections of 19th Century race based Theology in general and the expansion of the “Curse of Cain” due to Brigham Young’s personal racism in particular.

* Acknowledge that according to the Apostles (see 1 Peter 2:9 in particular) all Christians are Priesthood holders. As a result the LdS Church will join the Community of Christ in treating women like co-equals, like co-heirs in Christ, and like partners in stewarding God’s Kingdom.  

* As a result of the aforementioned, it will be publicly announced that women can pray in General Conference (as well as all other church meetings and functions) and can run the Relief Society (including the Relief Society General Conference meeting) on their own. They can also give blessings just as they did in Joseph Smith’s day.   

* Make tithing as well as monthly Fast and  Testimony offerings voluntary and without repercussion should one choose not to give.

* Reverse all past excommunication and dis-fellowhship actions and apologize to all who suffered under this system.

* Restore the New Testament charismata (Spiritual Gifts) to the LdS Church making it Pentecostal as it originally was.

5) Mission the General Authorities with realigning LdS Theology with mainstream Biblical Christian Theology while still retaining the unique aspects of the legacy LdS Church that were Biblical, positive distinctives.  To this end I would suggest Todd Wood’s excellent “95-Theses for the LDS I-15 Corridor” as a guideline to this end.

6) Invite reputable Biblical Christian Theologians to aid and assist the General Authorities with the previous action (#5 above).

7) Remind LdS Missionaries and parents of Missionaries that such service should be completely voluntary and that should be no stigma for not serving a mission. I would also encourage any active Missionaries who felt like they were pressured, manipulated, or coerced into going on a Mission to return home – at Church expense.

8) Apologize to ExMormons and encourage them to try the “New, Improved and Biblically based” Mormonism.

9) Apologize to the entire Latter Day Saint movement (main Salt Lake City “Brighamites” and splinter groups alike) for the “false revelation” of Polygamy and the harmful fall out that has ensued since.

10) Lobby all Southwest State Attorney Generals to actively begin prosecuting Polygamists within their states.

11) Mission the Relief Society with developing the means and methods of helping the women and children who want to escape from Polygamist Communities to do so with LdS Church support – including financial support for a set period of time.

12) Liquidate LdS Church holdings in non-religious assets to back fill for reduced revenues due to a significantly smaller membership and tithing base.

13) I would go to the Mormon Tabernacle and publicly apologize for Richard J. Mouw and how he has mislead both Mormons and Christians through his naivete and bad scholarship from the very same pulpit where he started the embarrassing insanity that followed in the wave of his November 14, 2004 apology.

14) I would also relieve those Latter-day Saints who deceived and mislead Dr. Mouw of all their callings and positions within the LdS Church and within church owned institutions – like Bingham Young University. And as I do so,  I would say,  “Thank you, it’s been nice!” to them . . .  but then again, I wouldn’t want to violate #1 above.

The good news is that from now on these guys (and you know who you are fellas!) won’t be in a position to hurt anyone or embarrass the  LdS Church any more – we’ll see you liars, deceivers, and manipulators at Church on Sunday but that’s about all.  Hey, come to think of it a little Sunday School might do you guys some good!

15) Consolidate LdS meeting houses to accommodate the smaller attendance base and sell extraneous real estate to back fill for lost tithes and offerings.

16) And, oh yeah, in keeping with #1 I would join the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and comply with their “Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship” which includes public, financial transparency among other things.   Those public financial statements will be a first for the LdS Church in the United States since 1959!

And if I managed to dodge all the neo-Danite Assassination attempts, the internal political coups,  as well as the stress from the angry public outcry and condemnation of splinter groups breaking off  and reorganizing in every which way (just like they did when the RLDS reformed) I might even live to see some or all of this fulfilled!

And I believe through these changes I that we would finally see a truly authentic Biblical Restoration of the LdS Church.

So that’s my list.

What would your list look like if you were “Mope”?

[1] This “revisited” edition is more refined and polished than prior versions.  In addition I have annotated where I thought it appropriate, relevant to the discussion, and/or there’s been a “sticking point” in past discussions.  I hope that the extensive hyper-linking doesn’t distract too much from the overall narrative and I apologize in advance to those who feel that it does.

[2] My intention here is to enable the LdS Church to gain from the “lessons learned” by the RLDS/Community of Christ – which I feel is headed in a generally positive direction and ‘further up the road’ than the LdS Church. However, on this point RLDS/CoC Historian John Hamer has remarked:

“On the point about merging the LDS and Community of Christ churches, that’s really like asking Taiwan to “merge” with China. Both Taiwan and China are legitimately Chinese countries and heirs to the China that existed before WW2. However, like Taiwan, we’re a tiny democracy, and like China, they’re a giant authoritarian regime. Even if the bigger polity was supposedly going to be absorbed into the leadership structure of smaller, i.e., if the Chinese Communist Party and the LDS hierarchy were abolished and the merged groups were restructured under the leadership of the smaller party, the smaller groups (Taiwan and the Community of Christ) wouldn’t have anything near the capacity to reform or assimilate the larger group.

That said, I do think that the Community of Christ is being called to provide a spiritual home for liberal Mormon seekers who are disaffected from their church’s authoritarian leadership and its sexism.”
(from Concerned Christians discussion board circa 2010 – link now dead) 

(BTW, click on the picture of the Pope at the top to see a hidden “Easter Egg”.
See it how it pays to read to the end?)