Steadying the Ark

My two weeks of guest blogging is about over. I wanted to thank you all for invigorating discussion and thought that you have spurred me to during this time. I want to thank Steve Evans for inviting me to join you. I’ve had a good time.

So for my last blog consider this scripture:

Samuel 6:

6 ¶ And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the aark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against aUzzah; and God bsmote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

I was riding with a group of professors to BYU and one of them said of someone, “He was trying to steady the ark.” He meant of course that the church received its correction from above and within and that anyone who noticed a problem ought not try to fix it. That’s not our job. Perhaps like poor Uzzah above they deserved to be smitten down for their attempt.

But what if Uzzah knew what he was doing? What to save the ark he offered his life? What if saving the ark was the Raison d’entre for his being there, right then? Without his reaching out to steady the ark it would have gone into the mud.

I can think of many ‘ark steadyers’ who risk career, life, family etc. because they thought the ox had stumbled and someone had to reach out and keep the ark from falling. Eugene England comes to mind, but also the organizers of the Cheney protest and alternative commencement at BYU when Dick Cheney was invited to be the graduation speaker. So I was curious, who would make your list of an ‘ark steadyer’s’ nest? They have to meet these criteria:

1) They deeply and unashamedly love the church.
2) They want to make the human parts of it better.
3) They take great risks to make it so.


  1. Great risks? Like what, taking the chance that someone might roll their eyes every time the ark-steadier stretches forth his or her hand?

  2. Interesting question. And FWIW, there was another very interesting reinterpretation of the Uzzah story at FPR last month:

  3. Juanita Brooks comes to mind

  4. Steven P says:

    #1 actually I was thinking more like loosing your job, health, or membership. Eye rolling can hurt too.

  5. Little Sister says:

    Thank you for this post; its very thought-provoking.
    Would not “do(ing) all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment [against gay marriage in CA] by donating of your means and time” count? I hope so.

  6. Little Sister says:

    #1: The Dick Cheney protesters risked a lot more than eye rolling.

  7. sister blah 2 says:

    #1–Ditto #6, the Cheney protesters, especially the instigators/organizers were at great risk.

  8. Should this question be answered by a person of faith?

    I ask this because “free will” intersects with “holy ghost” in ways that are not understood. So doesn’t it follow that any given act may or may not represent an individual?

    (Stated another way — Only God can recognize those who steady arcs.)

    I worry about “harmless” conjecturing. Many people wonder why they don’t hear the voice of God. Isn’t it true that reinforcing worldly values — or a particular interpretation of God’s values — tends to move one further from God? My experience is that people can’t hear things when they’ve already figured out their truth/interpretation.

  9. D. Michael Quinn

  10. Lowell Bennion preached mightily against the priesthood ban. There were widespread rumors that he was considered for apostleship but was nixed over his vocal and public opposition to the ban.

    Also, this dude comes to mind.

  11. What happened with the Cheney protestors? (I don’t live in Utah, but I know there were some protests surrounding his speech at BYU.) I don’t mean for this to be a threadjack….

  12. The Cheney protesters were at risk of what? Are you suggesting that Dick Cheney might have shot them? Because the idea that church authorities would discipline them for a political protest seems incredibly far-fetched.

  13. Carol Lynn Pearson, Robert Rees, Darius Gray, Tamu Smith, Eugene AND Charlotte England, and definitely Lowell Bennion–who was a mentor for several of these.

  14. Little Sister says:

    E, yes, I suppose you are right. The protesters had little risk of being disciplined by the Church. BYU maybe, but not the Church.

  15. I believe some BYU professors joined them. No, I can’t imagine BYU disciplining students for exercising free speech. But just to be sure, the students were careful to not hold their event on the BYU campus, but at another one. Several were my former students. I AM PROUD OF THEM!!! The speaker they chose would not have been my first choice, but it was their event, not mine.

  16. Great post. It is not often we honor those who followed their conscience and consequently suffered.

    I have a long list. I second Juanita Brooks, Eugene England and Michael Quinn. Also Lavinia Fielding Anderson, Paul Toscano, Margaret Toscano, Maxine Hanks, Lynne K. Whitesides, Newell Bringhurst, Lester Bush, Linda K. Newell, and Valeen T. Avery.

  17. I’ll repeat the endorsement of the link in #2.

  18. Juanita Brooks is my hero.

  19. JA Benson–all of those you list are folks I admire. But not all of them meet the criteria of deeply loving the Church. One who definitely does fit is Lavinia. (And I won’t pretend to know the hearts of the others, though I do know several of them and have a good sense of what they love. Some don’t care for the Church at all, but do care about issues of equality.) Lavinia should be on anyone’s list. So should one of her boldest defenders: Levi Peterson.

  20. Steve Evans says:

    Following your conscience and suffering for it is a noble thing — if you happen to be right. Not all martrys have divine sanction, and I don’t like to canonize people simply for being stubborn. Perhaps we should also consider people who have worked arduously for the kingdom in the face of apathy or without thought of fame or martrydom or reward.

    Steven, thanks for riding shotgun with us — I hope we haven’t seen the last of you.

  21. People can’t be canonized without doing a miracle and also dying, can they? Steve, I’m trying to think of an example of someone who followed his/her conscience and suffered for it–and was wrong. George Wallace comes to mind. Good point.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    Margaret, it’s debatable, since so many martyrs are political… Che springs to mind. Joan of Arc wasn’t so wonderful if you are British. The current FLDS practitioners are wrong and suffering, but are following their consciences. Closer to home, and while others may disagree with me, I think the Toscanos were wrong.

    and yeah, you’re right re: canonization procedure, but I figured it was a fairly analogous thing.

  23. We’ll have to arm wrestle about Joan of Arc (and I once broke my elbow, which puts you at an advantage.) There is at least one church in England which has a stained glass window dedicated to the Maid of Orleans. Granted, Shakespeare portrayed her as a witch in the rarely performed _Henry VI_ (of course you already knew that, didn’t you-), but whenever that play is performed–and it’s never performed without significant editing because Shakespeare just wasn’t that good when he wrote it–Joan is little mentioned. Alas, dear Shakespeare had to conform to political conveniences himself.

  24. Eric Russell says:

    I nominate myself for streaking naked through campus in protest of the removal of Pizza Hut from the Cougareat.

  25. Eric–so I take it you’re primarily focused on the second criterion: “They want to make the human parts better.” Which human parts were you focusing on?

  26. To echo Steve’s point a bit:

    In the moment, all three of the descriptions here can apply to those who supported the Church’s politically or socially unpopular positions in the face of intense persecution from both inside and outside. Joseph Smith is an easy example of someone who stood up for his “Mormon” beliefs and suffered for it – as are many of those who were persecuted harshly for practicing polygamy in the years immediately prior to the Manifesto. It would include the first few hundred converts in each newly opened mission. It could include those who excommunicated certain members even in the face of widespread criticism and pressure. The list is long and depends strictly on the way the descriptions are applied.

    If we define them so narrowly that they simply mean “those who stood up to beliefs or practices we personally opposed”, doesn’t this become nothing more than praise of those we admire who thought like us?

  27. Matt W. says:

    This is a really interesting concept. One name that comes to mind was Henry Eyring, who took great risk to himself to steady the ark by being public with some concepts on evolution. Another is BH Roberts. Another is my mission president, who argued with a few 70s and went round and round to ensure that missionary work was being done in a reasonable acceptable way. Another is Gordon B. Hinckley, who as a young man reported to the Quorum of the 12 what the church was doing wrong with missionary work in Europe.

  28. Helmuth Hübener. Game, set, and match.

  29. Margaret, You are right, but I was thinking of more of how ( I think) they were before they had church action taken against them. Lavinia is my hero. I would have to say that you and Darius could be put in this category too. I don’t know ( and it is none of my business) if you have been called upon to suffer (Darius has), but you both have certainly stuck your necks out. God bless you both for doing so.

  30. Without his reaching out to steady the ark it would have gone into the mud.

    I think this is a fair question of Uzzah, but when you get into the Quinns, the Toscanos, and Lavina Fielding Anderson (to name a few that have been mentioned), was the Church about to tip into the mud, so to speak, or were they trying to promote their own idea of “straightness”?

  31. Mud? I think Quinn’s work has begun to wash away some mud.

  32. Aaron Brown says:

    Just curious … in what ways has Lester Bush suffered? I understand Brooks, England, Quinn and the September 6. But was Bush ever disciplined or censured for his writings? I wasn’t aware of this.

    Aaron B

  33. Matt W. says:

    In this paradigm, Jesus = Super Ark Steadier

  34. Ugly Mahana says:

    It says that “God besmote him,” not that the prophet, the king, or one of the ‘sons of the prophets’ killed Uzzah in righteous anger. I think that often we may be too judgmental of others’ attempts to build the kingdom. But I also think that God is opposed to ark-steadying. Perhaps all that we think of as ark-steadying is not ark-steadying.

    Remember that there were Levites whose priesthood calling was to care for, and carry, the ark. I don’t think Uzzah would have been struck down for calling out to them. Or even criticizing them after the ark fell. Rather, like Saul, he was punished for usurping their role. (The comparative harshness of the punishment could probably make another good post.) Thus, calling attention to the Church’s failings probably does not constitute ark-steadying, but ordaining a deacon without authorization would.

  35. #32 Aaron B
    If I have my information is correct; Bush was not excommunicated just shunned and treated badly like Juanita Brooks.

  36. Chris P. says:

    C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant and David P. Kimball are three that I think did what they felt was right even though, they knew they would probably die. And all did later in life from the effects of the cold.

  37. Chris P. says:

    Pres. Dahle. 1st councilor to the mission pres. on my mission. He was converted while trying to disprove the Book of Mormon. Lost many loved ones close to him, and sacraficed many things.

  38. Steven P says:

    Margaret you are right a number of BYU professors joined the protest. There was also a letter sent to the administration with 50 signatures of faculty members that said that the VP did not represent BYU’s values and ought not to have been invited. It was never made public because they wanted it to be considered faithful opposition and not a public stab at the admin. I signed it.

    Also, I think there are many ‘steadyers’ who have profound influence whose stories are never widely told. I think of Duane Jeffery in my department (you may have heard of him as the author of “Seers, Savants and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface.” He battled long and hard for evolution to be taught in its fullness at BYU. Without him I honestly think BYU would have become a religious University more akin to Oral Roberts University than to Notre Dame.

  39. Ugly Mahana,
    The ark was being moved incorrectly, at David’s behest. It should have been traveling on the shoulders of Levites, not on a cart being pulled by oxen. Uzaah, whose family had been consecrated to care for the ark, knew this. Yet he chose to submit to David’s way rather than the Lord’s prescribed way, even to the point of reaching out his hand to keep David’s plan from being foiled. Uzzah’s sin, if anything, consists in blindly following the will of his leaders when he knows God’s will demands something else. Ultimately, David is responsible for Uzzah’s death, and he accepts responsibility for the whole debacle.

  40. The Dick Cheney protesters risked a lot more than eye rolling.

    As the blood-spattered execution cellars of the Republican National Committee attest.

    Keep hope alive!

  41. I second Huebener. He is one of Mormonism’s greatest heroes and it is a tragedy no-one has hear of him. Where’s the BYU building with his name on it?

  42. Another vote for Huebener here.

  43. Ronan–I certainly revere Huebener, and hope that the day comes when he is appropriately memorialized. Of course, he has been the subject of plays, books (written by his co-conspirators, Rudi Wobbe and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe) and a documentary, but I think a fascinating class on ethics could use Helmuth as a focal point. It’s not cut and dried, though. His excommunication is not easily judged. Granted, the branch president was a member of the National Socialist party, but he was also responsible for the safety of his branch members–and Helmuth had used Church materials to print his anti-Nazi pamphlets. Some hard questions to ask.

    I don’t know that Huebener was trying to improve the Church (though in Tom Rogers’ play, Huebener rips a sign from the church door which says “Juden Verboten”–and I believe that act is from historical fact). But I think he was endangering himself not to improve the Church, but to improve and even save Germany.

  44. I believe, Margaret, that any act to improve and save Germany is also an act to improve and save the church. I know his life inspires me — not because he was a German, but because he was a Latter-day Saint. Thus the church is improved.

  45. molly bennion says:

    Your criteria are interesting. Certainly Lowell, Gene, Darius, Juanita, Lavina and others meet them. What is a “great” risk is a legitimate question, but the answer can vary with individual values and circumstances. Arguably your criteria allow for equally interesting possibilities in the meaningful acts of courageous integrity by members at large, for instance, general authorities who press for unpopular change within the ranks, members who risk careers for church service, bishops who risk their callings and ward respect bending rules or culture to meet human needs, teachers who teach well-researched, well-considered truths outside the manual but sorely needed by the members, risking their opportunities to teach or even serve in the Church, and home and visiting teachers who go to very dangerous places to fulfill their callings. These are actually the most common kinds of acts of integrity about which Lowell Bennion wrote so often and for which he suffered and we will never know of most of them. An isolated act of such courage won’t steady the ark but I suspect the sum total of our small integrities may indeed keep it from the mud.

  46. OK, I’m totally out of the loop on this stuff. Y’all talk about Lowell Bennion and all he suffered and I just don’t get it. I never heard of the man until my husband gave me “How Can I Help?” as a Christmas gift in 1996. I gather he was involved with CES and was short-listed to be an apostle (though how anyone knows that is beyond me) but for some reason was overlooked. Sounds to me like he dodged a bullet. What did he suffer? Inquiring minds want to know.

  47. Alexander says:

    Another vote for Duane Jeffrey, and one for Bill Bradshaw, who has tried to educate BYU students and the community about the biological basis of homosexuality.

  48. Interesting conversation. My question is, how else does Church leadership figure out the nitty-gritty problems of the Church (and often their solutions) without discussing them with those members whose lives are greatly affected by a certain problem, and therefore often have some level of expertise? Case in point: the Singles Program for those over age 30. It seems to me that to interpret the Uzzah story too strictly can only create the kinds of problems that large corporations and other beaurocracies where the leadership and the front-line workers live in completely diffrent realities which in turn create larger problems. Thoughts?

  49. Aaron Brown says:

    Yes, Duane Jeffrey should definitely be included.


  50. The only reason the ark was in peril that day was because David had ordered the ark to be moved without regard for the strict and specific pattern revealed by the Lord for the handling and treatment of the holy item.

    Only the high priest of the temple was allowed to touch the ark, and only after going through a detailed cleansing ritual and then offering a sin sacrifice first. Specific families were anointed to actually bear or carry the ark, none of them were allowed to touch it with their hands in any way. The Levites would cover the ark completely as directed by God and then insert strong beams through the handles and those chosen to bear the ark would carry it by those beams.

    The ark symbolized the presence of God, His throne, His power and glory, and both David and Uzzah treated the ark casually and without reverence or honor.

    “Uzzah’s offence consisted in the fact that he had touched the ark with profane feelings, although with good intentions, namely to prevent its rolling over and falling from the cart. Touching the ark, the throne of the divine glory and visible pledge of the invisible presence of the Lord, was a violation of the majesty of the holy God. ‘Uzzah was therefore a type of all who with good intentions, humanly speaking, yet with unsanctified minds, interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of God, from the notion that they are in danger, and with the hope of saving them.’” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:333.)

    The prophet John Taylor said:
    “We have more or less of the principles of insubordination among us. But there is a principle associated with the kingdom of God that recognizes God in all things, and that recognizes the priesthood in all things, and those who do not do it had better repent or they will come to a stand very quickly; I tell you that in the name of the Lord. Do not think you are wise and that you can manage and manipulate the priesthood, for you cannot do it. God must manage, regulate, dictate, and stand at the head, and every man in his place. The ark of God does not need steadying, especially by incompetent men without revelation and without knowledge of the kingdom of God and its laws. It is a great work that we are engaged in, and it is for us to prepare ourselves for the labor before us, and to acknowledge God, his authority, his law and his priesthood in all things.” (Gospel Kingdom, p. 166.)

  51. I agree with many of the name submissions so far.

    One name jumped to my mind, who, if his life weren’t cut short, how much more we could have learned: Joseph Smith.

    I’m not trying to trump anyone, it just seemed proper to afix his name, considering the criteria for judgment (though not perfectly analogous to Uzzah). He definitely did a number of things that were unpopular by many of his own.

  52. We have no evidence that Uzzah loved the Church deeply or wanted to make the human parts of it better or knowingly sacrificed himself for either of those reasons. Since what he did made God angry enough to strike him dead on the spot, I don’t think such a conclusion is valid.

  53. These aren’t conclusions about Uzzah. He’s a foil to explore questions about certain tensions we find in our church.

  54. Nat Whilk says:

    Huebener endorsed Allied area bombing of German cities, saying that the responsibility for the resulting deaths of German civilians rested on Hitler’s shoulders, not on Allied leaders. I can maybe accept that argument, but I’m a little surprised that some of those honoring Huebener in previous comments can.

  55. Ed Firmage, another of the September 7 has not been mentioned. I second Eugene England, and BH Roberts. Heubener is a great hero of mine, but his actions were derived from his faith and directed at a political target. His excommunication (and posthumous reinstatement) was not a result of his church related activities, so in my mind he doesn’t fit Steven P’s criteria.

    I don’t have the details here, but Moses Thatcher, an Apostle and contemporary of BH Roberts, also merits some discussion. He seemed to be on the wrong side politically, and sought public office without permission from the rest of the Quroum of 12. He was released as an Apostle, but continued as a member of the church for the rest of his life.

  56. I believe what most folks are missing. Is that Uzzah broke the law (no matter what his intention) and was punished.

    It is no other persons fault or responsibility. It doesn’t really relate to many of the stories that have been told. The plain and simple truth of the matter is; if he had not been punished he would have made God a liar.

  57. #56: To me, a higher law is Charity, either for man or gods. To me, Charity is giving, loving, forgiving, Mercy, Grace, to those who might not ‘deserve’ it. To me, God showing His forgiveness to those breaking His laws, does not make him a liar.

  58. NorthboundZax says:

    It is refreshing to see ‘steadying the ark’ discussed in a positive sense. Usually I hear it the negative sense ryan (#56) mentions – don’t do it or you will be punished. Personally, I think if there had been more ark steadiers around Uzzah, he would have actually been able to steady it and keep it out of the mud. IOW, he wasn’t able to sustain the weight on his own and the ark crushed him.

  59. #56: Omniscience transcends our reality — so something that we would describe as a “lie” may not be a lie to God. So, using worldly logic to describe “lies” and “covenants” with relation to God rarely makes any sense except for general guidance and intent.

  60. Nat Whilk says:

    Alma thought that letting wicked people into heaven would make God a liar, but then he probably wasn’t as intellectually sophisticated as the people on By Steve’s Consent.

  61. Nat, what is your problem exactly? What’s your justification for that remark?

  62. NorthboundZax,

    The ark did not fall, and it did not crush Uzzah. God “smote” him in righteous anger. Scripture indicates that God “made a breach” where Uzzah had been-a gap or fissure in the earth that served as a permanent reminder of God’s wrath.


    God loves us all and shows mercy to all, but He cannot forgive the unrepentant. To do so would violate the law of Justice as well as our personal agency…IOW, we cannot be forgiven or glorified against our will either. God had already smitten more than 50,000 men for looking into/at the ark without permission or authority to do so. Either Uzzah was completely unaware of the history and procedures regarding the ark or he didn’t believe what the prophets had taught and recorded concerning the power and authority required to handle it. Both make him an inappropriate and unworthy choice to be anywhere near the ark.

  63. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    Alma makes appeals to intellectual sophistication and logic almost as much as he does to his own authority and revelations; I’m certain that nobody here is questioning either him or his authority – I wouldn’t.

    However, the problem is that the scriptures usually aren’t self-interpreting but require either external context or personal revelation to apply them. So when we look at the experience of Uzzah what are we to make of it? Are we to try and understand it from the conjectured interpretation of an unknown 8th or 7th-century BC Israelite writing down the story hundreds of years after it happened (from unknown sources and with probable biases)? Are we to understand it from a 19th-century Mormon position? Is there only one “right” way of looking at it? (My answer: of course not.)

    Good steadying of the ark – in real humility expending effort and sacrifice to build up the kingdom of God, even if the majority doesn’t currently understand the reasoning – this is rare but essential for the Church. These are the Levi Savages of the Church who go against the advice of their leaders for the benefit of their fellow men and women but are true and faithful to the cause of Christ. Bad steadying of the ark – in an act of hubris, placing oneself as better than God and correcting God’s mistakes – much more common. I think we’ve all seen examples of this.

  64. “You pay for every good deed in this world” ( Magnificent Seven). I am afraid, knowing me, I would be a Uzzah, have to count on some Mercy.

  65. NorthboundZax says:

    U.H., the bible may say ‘God smote Uzzah’, but the whole thing comes off as an ancient FPR to me. What do you think is more likely: A literal read that God was angry enough to kill someone for trying to help, or that Uzzah simply failed and it crushed him – with subsequent embellishment about the danger of touching the ark? I’ll go with the second – and with a positive notion of steadying the ark.

    The real lesson of Uzzah, I think, is know your limits of what you can change for the better – sometimes prudence dictates that we have to get out of the way and let the ark soil itself. Then, at least we can still be in shape to help lift it out of the mud again.

  66. NoCoolName Tom,

    There are qualifying characteristics that must be obtained before it is possible to exhibit “real” humility. The condition is obtained through sincere contrition and repentance, meekness, and being willing to submit to the will of God and no one else. It is impossible to be true to the cause of Christ without submitting to the will of the Father as Christ did even when it was extremely difficult.

    Levi Savage may have disagreed with his wagon train leader but once the decision was made, he chose to go and serve and help right beside him even knowing that it could cost him his life. He had complete faith in God and left it all in His hands regardless of the immediate result.

    Those who follow the steps the Lord outlined really do obtain the keys that unlock human understanding and they are able to view the events of mortality in their external context. They obtain a witness of their own that the Lord is working on a much bigger picture and that there is no reason to worry about His ark being carried by unauthorized means. Those who desire and obtain this divine gift do not have to rely on the conjectured interpretations of anyone-be it the 7th century BC or the 21st Century AD.

    Forgive the added length, but your comment prompts me to point out just a few of the biblical symbols often missed here that are filled with truth and wisdom.

    The event takes place on the threshing floor, a place where the wheat and the chaff are separated.

    The ark was being moved in a manner directed by men-in this instance the one that required the least amount of human labor or discomfort=oxen. The divine order of God was that it was born on the shoulders of those chosen and anointed for that purpose by priesthood authority.

    The ark was always to travel before or in front of Israel, and in this instance both man and beast were placed in front of it.

  67. I think we need to be careful with taking the OT too literally. For example, the prophets hardly ever have children killed by bears anymore for making fun of their bald heads.

  68. And why don’t we have pictures of that in primary?

  69. NoCoolName_Tom says:

    I have not received a witness of either a) the historical truth of the story as recorded, or b) a witness of the truth of the “Uzzah was the one at fault and deserved his fate” interpretation. Maybe someday I will; I promise I will work on it, starting tonight as I attend the Temple. I currently feel that there’s no strong evidence that the anonymous writer of 1 Kings, nor especially the specific words of his book, are inspired or divine (although I believe that behind his text are true events that may have experienced some garbling and exaggeration in the intervening centuries), but I continue to rely on the Lord to guide and correct me. How I wish that the complex editorial history of the OT was as clear as that of the Book of Mormon !

    I brought up Brother Savage as an example of someone who strongly spoke up (which is what almost all modern “ark-steadiers” do, good and bad; their action is almost always just speaking) even when his leaders pronounced by revelation that their journey would be successful and protected. To me the great humility of Brother Savage is that he both spoke up and accompanied the company because of his love for his fellow men and women when he was unable to convince his leaders that their choice was wrong. To speak up, to me, is courageous and is action, and to continue to serve even in the face of rejection and danger is love and humility.

  70. #66 U.H.: I really like your perspective on the topic of humility. Personally, this is a topic I struggle with daily. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to remind myself to accept this world as an expression of God’s will.

  71. Tom,

    I have not read where Elder Savage’s leaders said they received personal revelations that they would be protected and successful, but my study of the situation has not been that dedicated. I’ve only read that the participants voted and that he was overruled.

    I agree with you completely that he was a brave and loving man, and accounts say that no one worked harder or provided more relief and strength on that trip than he did. The suffering experienced by those immigrants is something I cannot comprehend, nor do I wish to, but many of the survivors expressed that they felt no regret because of the relationship they developed with God in the process. Those who died proving their dedication to the Lord and His church surely obtained the greatest success possible-exaltation. Beyond obtaining a body, isn’t that the purpose of mortality?

  72. Steven,

    While I agree with your premise, the OT also contains some things that could destroy us if we take them too lightly. The history of our first parents, the ten commandments, the history of the House of Israel (and thus the history and lineage of those in the Book of Mormon)even Nephi called the words of Isaiah “great”.

    When we take the scriptures lightly we miss out on all kinds of knowledge and enlightenment, the story of Elisha is a great example. They weren’t little children and they weren’t punished for mocking his bald head.

  73. LOL Tony. The fact that God gave us this world so that we could undeniably express our own free will shouldn’t be confused with Him desiring it to be the way it is. If even most of us submitted to His will, it would be a very different place indeed.

  74. Mark IV says:


    Some of the survivors expressed no regret for having started on the trail too late in the year, but Brigham Young surely did, and he let then know about it. The apostles and leaders who encouraged such a late start and who promised the handcart companies that all would be well were in the wrong. BY let them know that, and gave them a royal dressing down. Perhaps Br. Savage should have been even more stubborn, that would have been more in line with the wishes of Pres. Young.

  75. Steven P says:

    U.H. Good point I don’t disagree that the OT be taken seriously. Just too often it is taken literally were it should not be. I have a friend that says it well. “Too often we focus on the truth of the story, when we ought to be focusing on the truths in the story.”

  76. “Too often we focus on the truth of the story, when we ought to be focusing on the truths in the story.”

    I really like that, Steven.

  77. #73 U.H.: Can I both agree and disagree? On one hand, God may desire things to be different (eg. evil, individual paths, free will choices.) At the same time, how can I deny that the very system allowing those things is His system? I can’t believe in omnipotence and deny it at the same time.

  78. I think something that we need to bear in mind is that the rules were a little clearer cut, in the OT. Since the start of the NT we have observed a higher (more complex) set of laws that correspond to the development of the human race as a whole.
    So back in the days of Uzzah they were told “don’t touch” for whatever reason – Uzzah touched – even though it was for a good intention.
    However the so called “Ark steadiers” choose to meddle (for the good or bad) and some similarity to Uzzah but the main objective is to maintain the status quo.
    These should not be confused with individuals that followed a chosen path and faced the consequences.

  79. Sorry for this rather long post.

    This is a question for NoCoolName_Tom. Of course, any other answers would also be welcome.

    During the year 2000, in a Temple recommend interview, I told my Stake President that my wife and I had refused a calling in the Ward (which was in Utah County). He asked me to explain why. I told him we had refused the calling because the Bishop had asked us to do something that we felt was against the budget guidelines regarding the Scouting program. The Bishop became very upset and had us meet with him and his counselors. He told us during that meeting with his counselors that our refusal to accept his call was wrong. He further explained that the Church had no business telling the Scouting program how to operate and that he had the right to receive inspiration on how his ward should operate. He said the Church was wrong for not allowing scouts to raise as much money as they wanted, that the youth today needed more money than what the budget guidelines allowed, and that the First Presidency were out of touch with reality of what the youth of today were facing. I told him he could run his ward however he wanted, but that he would have to find someone else besides us to help him do it. Fortunately, one of his counselors was very concerned and was able to calm the Bishop down and convinced him to let us leave. Thank goodness, he was also the counselor that interviewed us for a Temple recommend.

    When the Stake President heard all this he told me I was absolutely correct to refuse the calling and that he would stop the practice of Scout fund raising in that ward. Then he asked me to report to him on a periodic basis about anything else I noticed to be incorrect in the ward operations. I refused and said, “I’m not an ark-steadier.” I wanted to tell him that the Lord has ways of steadying his own ark and that I wasn’t in a position to receive inspiration as to how that was to be accomplished. But since I wasn’t in a position to counsel him, I just kept my mouth shut.

    He wasn’t very pleased with my response, but signed my Temple Recommend anyway. I got a job transfer to another state just a few weeks after this incident. I don’t know what happened to the scouting program in that area after we moved.

    My question: Should I have accepted the Bishop’s call, knowing that my personal integrity would have died, so that I could learn to have love and humility? Should I have accepted my Stake President’s request to be his informant?

  80. Steve Evans says:

    Why on earth did this come up in a TR recommend interview?

  81. When he asked if I sustained my local leaders I said, “Not if they ask me to do something wrong.”

  82. Mark Brown says:

    Steve, probably in connection to the question about sustaining leaders.

  83. Steve Evans says:

    Steve, you were asking for it then. That’s like saying re: WoW, “Not when it’s delicious!”

  84. Steven P.

    I agree that there are many truths to be found in all scriptural stories, and that sincere study and prayer are the keys that open the door to all kinds of inspired insights. I believe it is an entirely different practice to add one’s own “subsequent embellishments” so that the story agrees with a personal opinion.

    Mark IV,
    I’m not saying that leaving that late in the season WAS the right thing to do either. The company heard what Elder Savage had to say and some chose to go and others chose to stay behind. They made an informed decision based on what they knew at the time. What NONE of them knew was that those in Salt Lake City had no idea that two parties were en route that late in the season and therefore no provisions had been stockpiled for them along the way, and no “help” would find them until it was almost too late. Had the expected supplies and aid been available at anticipated points the party probably would have not lost so many lives.

    Many other pioneers died during the trek west that did not leave late in the season. The journey was rough. It was physically taxing for the healthy and young, much more so for the elderly, frail, or otherwise. They still chose to go. They had faith in something beyond the Salt Lake Valley. They saw the bigger picture. More than 100 miles from Nauvoo, William Clayton received word that the pregnant (and sick with ague and the mumps) wife he left behind had given birth to a healthy baby boy. In his gratitude to God, he penned the words to what we know as “Come, Come, Ye Saints”. That song includes the sentiment “And should we die, before our journey’s through-Happy Day! All is well! We then are free, from toil and sorrow too; with the just, we shall dwell!”

    These people were not ark steadiers, they were ark believers. They put their trust in God and His ark and went where it went. If following meant hardship and pain, they endured it. If the price was hunger and thirst, they did without. If the Lord requested their lives-they consecrated them to Him. They buried their dead in shallow graves knowing the wolves were waiting in the darkness and followed the ark.

    The question always in my mind is “Am I that willing? Am I that faithful?” And whether I am or not yet, I truly want to be.

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