Sunday, September 14, 2014


The other day I was mentally reviewing the fifty plus years I had spent teaching in the Education System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As I mystically traveled through that majority period of my life, there were many years which were shrouded in a pretty dense haze, but there were also moments which were drenched with brightness in my mind.

In 1965 there was a young man named John who dropped by after school one day at the Kearns Stake Center where Brother Darrell Parks and I taught seminary to the ninth graders attending Kearns Junior High School. We were studying the Book of Mormon and the lesson that day had been on 4th Nephi and some of the latter-day revelations which talked about a Zion society built on the foundation of Celestial Law.

Evidently John had spent some time since our class pondering on the benefits and beauty of being able to live in such a community. His question to me was, “Why can't a group of people just get together and go up in the mountains and isolate themselves from all the corruption of the world and become a Zion society?”

I could tell he was really anxious about the issue, so we spent a wonderful hour together exploring the whys and why nots of his question.

The exact words we exchanged are contained in that dense haze I spoke of before, but having passed over the subject of a Zion society many times during those fifty years my hope would be that we covered some of the following concepts.

There are Seers who report of having been given glances into Heavenly Father’s Celestial World and then scantily reported on what their spiritual eyes had beheld. I am certain that no matter how exhaustingly we exercised our Telestial minds we would always fall short of catching the vision of how wondrous it really is. We do know that the beings that are eligible to reside there have taken on, through their own efforts and determination and having been added upon by a large helping of the Grace of God, the perfected attributes and characteristics of Godliness. Since us mortals without exception fall woefully short of such a standard, it would seem that no matter how long we separate ourselves away in the mountains we will, under present circumstances, never make of this earth a Celestial World.

In two instances in the scriptures we read of nations who have become Zion. One is spoken of in the Pearl of Great Price. Evidently, the prophet Enoch, after working with a group of people for centuries and after the Lord had separated them from all outside contact and distraction, was able to raise up a people who had one heart and one mind. Hearts which no longer had any disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. Minds where every thought was righteous, words were pure and actions were edifying. Then in 4th Nephi, the Book of Mormon speaks of another group who, after having been taught and converted by the resurrected Jesus Christ, became a Zion Nation. The Enoch groups had to be taken from this earth in order to preserve their righteousness; the Book of Mormon group was only able to continue as a Zion Nation into the third generation. Since not even the most righteous of us are going to be able to continue to work with each other as mortals for centuries and since none of us has the power to convert ourselves or others as did our Savior, we might conclude that as of now, becoming a Zion Nation might be a bit out of reach. Evidently there is no mountain high enough on this earth, where mortals can escape others and themselves in order to maintain the standards necessary for the perpetuation of a Zion Nation.

Along with many other revelations, Joseph Smith outlined the city plot and government of a City of Zion. During his short life and for some years after his life there were various attempts to build such a place and inhabit it with a people who would become Zion. The fatal error which seemed to show its serpented head soon after the first spade had entered fertile soil in each new place, was that the people who migrated to that place expected the place to make them Zion and they would therefore become a City of Zion. But alas, since they remained far short of the perfection referred by the Lord in his Sermon on the Mount and their hearts were still far from Him, these attempts were condemned to failure even before they had their meager goods stored on their wagon. So John, it seems that that heart we take to the mountain will be the same heart which others must deal with in our isolated new home.

As we continue to narrow our hopes of Zion, we take a quick peek at what the Latter Day Prophets hold up to us as a conceivable, achievable goal; a Zion Home. This idea hit John rather hard, since one of the reasons he had pondered on the possibility of a mountain retreat, was that he could not imagine that such a goal could be reached in the walls of his family’s house. Rather than Zion Homes, he felt surrounded with people living in houses which were occupied by inhabitants interacting in very dysfunctional ways. Houses where people were quick to put the blame for their own shortcomings on every other resident, but were extremely slow to take responsibility and be accountable for their disharmonizing words and actions. Houses where personal needs far eclipsed the needs of those who shared those walls. Even in small groups he witnessed a void between what he had quietly been taught in class that morning and the din of people who were far from being of one heart and one mind. His sincere remedy was that perhaps by escaping to the mountain he might have a chance of establishing a Zion Home. Sadly, he was left with trying to choose angels from among mortals.

One principle which we spoke of that day did shine brightly out of the haze and came clearly to my mind. I remember feeling that sensation which manifests itself in my being when a truth becomes mine and which I still hold to be true to this day. No one has the power to keep me from a constant effort to try to inch forward on my quest of putting on the perfections, attributes and characteristics of Godliness and hopefully, with the help of a Loving Heavenly Father those inches will somehow add up to feet. Thus, the Lord’s mountain is the only one I must climb and is the only path I can take to move closer to being a Zion Person.

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