Friday, February 8, 2013
Letters - Dying struggles of capitalism
Bemidji, Minn., April 28, 1935
Dear Father and Mother,
I was hoping to come down there for a few days this spring, but just couldn’t make it yet. It seems like where one must work to provide for six or more it takes all their time now-a-days, and then there is none too much; but somehow we have been able to provide for our needs so far, although far from faring sumptuously every day. I wonder why it is that when one has good cornmeal mush, pancakes, and maple sirup for breakfast, he craves bacon and eggs, butter cream, oranges, and lemon pie instead.
But the rich feel that only the few should have bacon and eggs, cream, butter, and the delicious fruits of the earth, while the many go eat their turnips. Well let them have their good things, and we’ll eat our turnips. But I never could pray for God to bless a system that robs the common people in order to let the rich loll in the lap of luxury. Sixty years old, almost, and I see in the fruit-stands things that I have never tasted, and many others so seldom that they are but shadowy dreams, while carloads are dumped to maintain prices so high that we can’t buy them.
The new deal has paid the farmer for the acre of wheat he agreed not to raise, but has taxed the acre he did raise to pay it. It has paid the farmer six dollars for the hog he did not raise, but has taxed him six dollars for the one he did raise to pay it. And then they wonder why conditions don’t seem to improve, and why the farmers are not satisfied with the new deal. The whole alphabetical program from start to finish is the craziest deal ever invented by man. It couldn’t work. At a time when the people had nothing to buy with at low prices, they raised the prices of everything they had to buy, and lowered the price of everything they raised to sell. Just how they figured that a man who had to scratch to buy flour at 89 cents a hundred, would be better able to buy it at $4.15 a hundred on a smaller income is a profound mystery. Small wonder that hundreds have been buying feed all winter and sifting it to make their bread, when they can get it at $2.25 a hundred. The wise man of Egypt stored grain during the years of plenty to supply the lean years that followed; but the fools of finance of our day, plowed under the cotton, burned the wheat, slaughtered the hogs, and curtailed production, while millions stood by destitute, unfed, unhoused, and unclothed. The “new deal” will go down in history as the most dastardly crime against humanity since the dawn of nations, either barbarous or semi-civilized like we are.
The county agent here is warning farmers to liquidate, and get their cattle and chattels clear this summer, for by fall the wave of “Prosperity” will be over, and we’ll see worse times that ever; but it makes the most of them mad. They won’t heed it. However; if this is prosperity, the sooner it comes to an end the better.
So we stand by and watch the dying struggles of capitalism, and can only say be damned to it, and pray the good Lord to hasten its demise. It has been one long drawn-out curse since its inception.
And then we looking in the books of the church and see the loving goodness of GOD IN HIS WILLINGNESS TO point the way for the people of the church to avoid the pangs of the present crises and our soul dries up and our heart fails within, and our hopes turn to ashes. How different it would have been if the shepherds of the flock had been as interested in feeding the sheep as they were in feeding themselves, or in other words as interested in establishing the common people in a condition of comfort as outlined in the revelations, as they were in being bedecked in gold braid and flashing swords and ranting up and down the streets on prancing black chargers, firing cannon salutes, or in blossoming out in new automobiles every time someone donates fifty thousand dollars to the treasury for the poor and needy. Surely the prophet’s forecast has been fulfilled by latter-day Israel, when he said:
“And the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, nether have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. . . . Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, than they may not be meat for them.” Ezekiel 34:1-10
Spoken no doubt directly to Israel in his day; but the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his course one eternal round, and will treat the latter-day Israel as he did former day Israel. His justice remains the same, his mercy endureth forever, and he will reclaim his flock of starvlings, and deliver them from the shepherds who have been fattening themselves, and have failed to make the provision for the flock that would have preserved them in comfort, though all nations be vexed because of the conditions that they brought upon themselves. And when we think of what “might have been”, we sigh, and turn our faces to the wall. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” And surely the hope of Israel has been long deferred. Your dream of starvation pasture is fulfilled already, Pa.
When I read of that last fourth of July celebration in Nauvoo, I can’t blame the people for driving them out; and when I see the doings of the “Shepherds” of today, I wonder the flock itself doesn’t rise up and drive them out.
I read your long letter, father, and appreciated it, and would like to comment on it in detail; but I am getting old and slow, and it will probably take me all summer.
Like you, we have done a lot of reading, and we have found many strange things. And like you, we are often led to exclaim, Wouldn’t it have been better for the church if instructions had been carried out as given, instead of doing something else, how much better it might have been.
Joseph Smith was designated the first elder, and an apostle, and Oliver Cowdery the second elder, and an apostle, and instructed that there were others who were to be chosen “even unto twelve” as first published, and Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were instructed to search out these others. If David Whitmer was to be included in the number, it would require nine others to bring the number “unto twelve.” For some reason this was not done, and a small isolated conference in Ohio with no direction so far as the record goes, chose Joseph to be President, and sent their action to Independence to be ratified. Afterward the word “unto” was dropped from the revelation, and so Joseph, Oliver, and David were never in the quorum of twelve. Might the church not have been different, if this direction had been carried out?
If we accept section 104, the sad thing about it is that there is no division of the Restoration in our day, that has a presidency like the one provided for there. For section 104 creates from four to an indefinite number of quorums and councils equal in authority and power in their decisions with the First Presidency. There is no place to go to find that kind of church government in operations. It must be like “equality” and “all things common”-yet to come.
We accept the revelations the same as we do the Bible and Book of Mormon, the former, “so far as it is translated correctly”, and the latter: “If there be mistakes, they are the mistakes of men.” And it is quite evident that there are mistakes, and many changes, additions, and subtractions. Section 7 was published three times, once in the Book of Commandments, and twice in the church papers, and yet, when it was published in 1835, after a presidency was selected, it contained two paragraphs that it never contained before, paragraphs 16 and 17, relating to the president of the high priesthood, etc.
Sections 3,5,8,16,17,24,26,42, and 43, there are 1,608 changes, and many other changes in the other revelations.
In the Book of Commandments chapter 44, which is section 42 in Doctrine and Covenants, it reads, “Thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which though hast unto me.”
This seems to be in complete harmony with Acts: “Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own, but all things common.”
And Joseph understood it in that light according to his letter to Bishop Patridge, Church History, vol.1, page 300: “Every man must be his own judge how much he should receive, and how much he should suffer to remain in the hands of the bishop. I speak of those who consecrate more than they need for the support of themselves and their families….
Therefore, those persons consecrating property to the bishop in Zion, and then receiving an inheritance back, etc. Showing a complete consecration, both that which he needs for his family, and the surplus. Section 42 reads “consecrate of thy properties,” OF instead of ALL. Quite a difference in meaning. One favors the rich, the other puts all on equal footing. One agrees with Acts, and the letter to Partridge, the other is built to order to feed to the flock by shepherds who have discarded the law of equality. In the same verse the words “bishops of my church and his counselors, two of the elders,” have the words “or high priests” added to the original. The same revelation in the Book of Commandments, reads: “Every family shall have a place, that they may live by themselves—and every church shall be organized in as close bodies as they can be: and this for a wise purpose.” This indicates a grouping together of the families of each group, or branch or church, for convenience in laboring together, and for protection. It agrees with Acts: where all “that believed were together, and had all things common.” But that instruction was dropped entirely from Doctrine and Covenants. Why? Had the shepherds decided it was easier to fatten on the flock if they were separated, and scattered, and all things common forgotten?
The number of presidents seem to have varied at different times, sometimes it was three, sometimes one, (when Joseph said, “Where I am not, there is no presidency), on page 560 of the History, there were seven presidents assembled at a GRAND council (that word GRAND sounds terribly Masonic), besides the bishops and their councils, and the Twelve, and some of the seventy with sic of their presidents named. And on page 572 there are four Presiding Elders named.
After all, was salvation based upon whether they had one, seven, four, or none?
The Nephites after Christ’s visit were blessed, prospered, reached the highest state of perfection of any of Christ’s church after his advent, with neither Presidency nor Quorum of Twelve Apostles, but with twelve disciples in charge. Nowhere do we find them told that their salvation hinged upon their belief in Presidency or Apostles. We do find them told plainly upon what their salvation does hinge, however.
At Jerusalem they had a Quorum of TWELVE Apostles, but nowhere do we find them told that their salvation hinged upon a belief in a Presidency. W.H.Kelley and Gomer T. Griffiths each while he was a member of the Twelve wrote a book on Presidency, one maintaining that James was the President, and the other that Peter was. The Bible evidence of Presidency seems rather elusive. J.W. Peterson took the ground that they had the Twelve Apostles at Jerusalem, a stake high council of twelve disciples in America, and most likely the First Presidency with the ten lost tribes. That would get them far enough apart so they wouldn’t quarrel, anyway. That way the Presidency couldn’t lord it over the Twelve, the Twelve needed complain of being reduced to the roll of errand boys for the Presidency, and the stake council in America could exercise its right of decision without intervention of the Presidency or Twelve Apostles.
What is necessary for salvation? Christ himself is authority for it to the Nephites, and this is what he said:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine…. Whoso believeth in my, and is baptized, the same shall be saved;…and whoso believeth in me, believeth in the Father also…. Ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine; and whoso buildeth upon this, buildeth upon my rock; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare MORE or LESS than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock, but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell standeth open to receive such.”—Nephi 5:32—42. (Third Nephi)
This statement of his doctrine essential to salvation, by Christ, is simple, straightforward, easy to understand, complete and final.
I look upon the Restoration Movement as on great pasture in which the sheep were to be fed, but the shepherds of the flock in order to fatten themselves have built division fences, and divided the sheep into flocks, and each shepherd in his particular division has planted obnoxious weeds, in addition to the wholesome food planted by Christ above, essential to salvation, and demanded that his followers shall endorse and feed upon the obnoxious growth in other to remain in his particular division; in other words to accept “MORE than” the “this” mentioned by Christ, or be cast out. That is why the sheep are divided, and scattered, and found in the valleys of the mountains, the forests of the north the sandy plains of the south and southwest, sick and hungry, fleeced and uncared for, and the fleecing goes merrily on.
Since when have you seen, or heard it advocated even, an effort to raise means by the law given in sections 106 and 42?
And how many times in the last twenty-five years, when money was to be raised, have they failed to go at it in the good old catholic way, a per capita assessment. The amount to be raised allotted to the districts according to their membership—The districts apportion their allotments to the branches according to their membership, the branches proportion its assessment among its members, which in the final analysis means to each producer according to the number of his dependants.
If I am supporting a wife and eight children who belong to the church, I have ten portions to pay, but my neighbor who supports a wife and one child belonging to the church has three portions to pay. And then the shepherds preen themselves, and spread their tail feathers, and strut up and down the stage, and say, Wasn’t that a noble plan? That lets the rich off easy, and socks it to the poor. The rich will still be our friends and bestow upon us toothsome benefits. While the poor may “eat flies, and like it” for all we care.
And to think of the “MORE” that has been added to this Restoration Movement! It is appalling!
Here are some of them:
Rebaptism, to renew their covenant, starts as early as 1842.
Rebaptism for the healing of the body, by the Reorganization.
Baptism for the dead at five dollars a head.
Proxy baptism for the living.
Endowments robes decorated with emblems of the square, compass, and level.
Secret others and penalties.
Supreme Directional Control.
Prosecuter court, and judge, all rolled into one.
And dozens of minor things, such as Who is president of the church, and who isn’t.
The thing that counts, is to be established on the “rock” as Christ said? That saves. These other things do not.
Joseph Smith begat a large spiritual progeny. They are not all in any on division of the restoration movement. There may be some in each of these divisions, and if they have kept their feet firmly planted on the rock, they will be saved. Their sonship, their membership, and their priesthood are good until they forfeit it by turning away from God.
The only basis for a union of divided latter day Israel, is upon the “rock” stated by Christ. To do that each division must remove the division fence erected by man, and forsake the obnoxious weeds of man’s planting; and each division has plenty of this to do, including the church of Christ (Temple Lot). But sometime it will be done, and all who desire will have the opportunity to worship God on the platform of Christ’s statement of doctrine, without have the club of man’s departure there from or addition thereto, hanging over his head to beat him into submission.
(To be continued)
How time does fly, and how crowded our days are with necessary duties! Trying to get a crop in, and at the same time make a living! Sometimes one lags behind, and then the other. One morning, while Alice was taking care of a neighbor woman and her new baby, Stella turned to me and said, “Papa, I’ve got the pancake batter all stirred up, and there isn’t any lard,” just as if she thought I might say a few words and produce the lard. I thought of the widow’s cruse of oil, but felt that I didn’t have the faith to tell her to dip into the lard can and get it. The emergency didn’t seem to warrant it. So I said, “Well sprinkle some cornmeal in the griddle, and put in your batter.” She did, and we had pancakes that way for a few mornings. Not too bad at that. When I think of the train loads of lard, sugar and flour I have bought, I think if there were some way to get along without buying those three articles, I could get rich yet.
We have had a superabundance of rain this month. Hardly know what to do with it. The river is so full we can’t cross with a car to get to the highway.
Our crops are doing fairly well, but need sunshine to hurry them up. Tomatoes are beginning to blossom. We have nearly seven hundred of them out, and a thousand cabbage plants. Early potatoes and sweet corn are looking good; peas just in bloom, strawberries beginning to ripen, but the only garden sass we have had so far are radishes, onions, and greens. Cutworms played havoc with our melon patch. Squash are looking fine, more than two hundred hills of them. Beans about ready to blossom. Field corn is slow, too cool and wet.
Maple sirup was a short crop this spring, for some reason; about a third of our usual run; so that is gone. We have a little contraband game in awhile, when some neighbor kills a fleetfoot and donates a chunk. We see them running around once in awhile. There are plenty of tracks, so we know they are right around us. We had a big turtle stew awhile back. Tastes good enough, if we could only forget what it was while eating. Our timber crop is a continual harvest. Sold about three hundred dollars worth during fall, winter, and spring. The old Model TT hauls a cord and a quarter of green birch, and that brings five dollars, and that is the way we keep off the relief.
They used to tell us that socialism would destroy “initiative”, and “incentive.” But when I look at the poor folks on relief, and see how many of them have no ambition to ever want to work again, and not enough incentive left to dig a patch of spuds if they were given them already raised, or pull a patch of beans, or cut a field of corn for the whole crop, I can’t help but feel that capitalism has destroyed not only initiative and incentive, but manhood and womanhood also. We hear people on the relief say, “It has got so we just can’t get along without five pounds of butter a week anymore,” and I could name three families that haven’t had that much butter altogether, all winter and spring. I wonder what such people will do when relief peters out.
Stella is working just now for a neighbor for three dollars a week—may last all summer. She comes home nights, and gets to work at 8:30 in the morning.
Well, I guess that is all the gossip I can think of so will close, with love to all. Leon.