Sunday, January 17, 2016


Some weeks ago I decided it was time to get back to working on my guessoirs. When you take on the task of writing your personal history in your eighth decade of life, the product doesn't turn out to be your memoirs, but your guessoirs. Anyway, as I was rededicating myself to get my guessoirs into a printable format, I decided to use the wonderful photo albums Kathleen has organized and accumulated during our lives to clear some of the fog from my brain cells. This wonderful tool has been remarkable in bringing back into clarity many events which I had been unable to stumble onto as I wandered through my cloudy past.

One of the events which was brought back into focus was my last appearance on stage as a very limited amateur. This personal swan song production took place when I was bishop of the Singles Ward in Reno, Nevada. For some reason the producers of this production thought it would be a good idea to cast me as a character in the musical ‘The Order is Love.’ The unusual thing about the part I was asked to play was that this role involved a member of the community who hadn't been able to assimilate all of the tenets of the Word of Wisdom. In particular he still had a bit of problem with abstaining from alcoholic beverages.

If you are not familiar with this musical it centers around a small town in Utah called Order Ville, where the economic system introduced by Joseph Smith was being experimented upon. There were a few other attempts to institute what Joseph called The United Order in the pre statehood days of Utah, but none of them lasted very long.

Hugh Nibley taught that a child is fond of attempting to use a tool before he is prepared. It can easily be said that the inhabitants of those small communities in Deseret, (The name given to a large mass of territory of which the state of Utah was but a small portion) were attempting to use tools of which they had little knowledge or skill to use.

Basic principles and understanding of the United Order:

1. Everything belongs to the Lord.

2. The inhabitants of the earth are to be stewards over that portion of the earth over which the Lord has placed them.

3. Recompense is not dependent upon skill, education or position, but on the circumstances of each family, their needs and wants. Needs of every family in the community will be equally met before wants of any unit will be considered.

4. The Church becomes the custodian of all titles to properties and stewardships are allotted to families according to their abilities. Stewardship were to be established by a fee simple document for their stewardship.

5. All common property not allocated as a stewardship was to be used to support the poor of the Church, especially those who were unable to care for themselves.

6. All surplus above that which was needed for the needs and allocated wants of a family was to be turned over to the Bishop to further care for the poor, widows, orphans and to support those who were giving full time to the ministry of the affairs of the Church.

7. A Sacred Treasury was eventually to be established to safeguard those funds derived from publication of books and other materials.

8. Another General Treasury was to be established to safeguard those special gifts which came to the Bishop by those who were especially successful in magnifying their stewardships and returned more than that which was deemed to be surplus.

Beyond the rules and regulations establishing the United Order, there were many fundamental gospel principles which a person must have donned in their lives before the United Order could ever be successful:

1. The Lord is no respecter of persons.

2. All the inhabitants of the earth are the children of God.

3. All must be esteemed as my brother or sister.

4. Agency must constitute the basis of all choices.

5. No individual’s contribution or skill is to be valued or recompensed above another’s.

6. The interest of my neighbors should be as much a concern as that of my family.

Although they are never mentioned in the revelations of the latter-days concerning the establishing of the United Order, it soon becomes apparent that some characteristics of the human family need to be eliminated and replaced with attributes more closely aligned with those which our Heavenly Father intended us to develop.

1. Pride, slothfulness, envy, prejudice, malice, desire for recognition and all other ‘self’ characteristics detrimental to the establishing of a Zion Society must be stripped off by each individual.

2. Love, compassion, dedication, charity and an overwhelming desire for the advancement and betterment of the whole must be added to our attributes.

During my cognizant years I have been able to more fully appreciated the privilege of listening to living Apostles and Prophets. I have heard them say such things as, ‘the church as a whole is closer to living the United Order today than any previous time in its history.’ They have pointed to the Welfare Program, the Humanitarian Efforts, the Perpetual Education Fund, the Foundation for Small Business and many other programs which are supported by the ‘surplus’ or offerings of the members of the Church as indicators of how many have had their hearts changed toward the principles needed to establish the United Order.

There have likewise been many discourses given to calm the troubled waters which many find themselves upon, as they make comparison of the United Order and such isms as communism and socialism. The bottom line of those calming discourses is that Agency will always be the basis of all participation in the United Order and it will never be establish by force.

As I look back upon my swan song as a thespian playing the role of a drunk in the musical ‘The Order is Love,’ I suspect there was a lot more type casting going on than was ever suspected by those who had chosen their Bishop for such a part. Just like my drunken alter ego who had chosen to only live parts of the Word of Wisdom, I find myself in the eighth decade of my life still being sifted and tried as I pick and choose those characteristics which I will strip from my being and those attributes which I know I should be adding.

In the end, whether we ever live in a community established on the principles of The United Order or not will be of little consequence, but it will be of consequence whether I have used my agency to try to inculcate those principles into my life.

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