State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Babylon, We Bid Thee Farewell

We have spent a lot of time looking at economic and other ideas of Western Civilization in an attempt to find the good, put off the bad, and see if it can point us a little closer to the United Order.  In considering all this, I have come to a simple conclusion (though I invite any other opinion to be voiced)–we can’t use Babylon to create Zion.  Sorry to anyone who has a political agenda, especially to anyone who thinks they are bringing us closer to Zion through their political agenda.  It can’t be done.  Today we will consider ideas from Nibley’s What Is Zion? A Distant View.  First a definition of Zion, from Nibley:

 The first thing to note is that Zion is perfect, flawless, and complete–not a structure in the process of building.  We work for the building up of the kingdom of God on earth and the establishment of Zion.  The first step makes the second possible….

When all the accidentals and incidentals are stripped away, what remains that is quintessentially Zion?  Buildings, walls, streets, and gates–even of gold and jasper–do not make Zion; neither do throngs in shining robes.  Zion is not a Cecil B. DeMille production; the properties do not make the play, no matter how splendid they may be.  What makes Zion?  God has given us the perfect definition:  Zion is the pure in heart–the pure in heart, not merely the pure in appearance.  It is not a society or religion of forms and observances, of pious gestures and precious mannerisms:  it is strictly a condition of the heart.  Above all, Zion is pure, which means “not mixed with any impurities, unalloyed”; it is all Zion and nothing else.  It is not achieved wherever a heart is pure or where two or three are pure, because it is all pure–it is a society, a community, and an environment into which no unclean thing can enter.  “Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (3Nephi 20: 36).  It is not even pure people in a dirty environment, or pure people with a few impure ones among them; it is the perfectly pure in a perfectly pure environment.  “I … will contend with Zion … and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me” (D&C 90: 36).

This makes it so different from our world that it almost begins to sound distasteful.  But a moment’s reflection will show that Zion cannot possibly be other than wholly pure.  For Zion is the eternal order; it has existed elsewhere from the eternities and will someday be permanently established on this earth.  Even the smallest impurity or flaw in anything designed to continue forever would, in the course of an infinite stretching of time, become a thing of infinite mischief.  The most perfect structures men have been able to erect have been short-lived because of tiny, all-but-imperceptible flaws.  Hence, any flaw, no matter how small, must be removed from a system designed to be timeless; otherwise, there will be no end of trouble.

 Does Zion seem pretty distant at this point?  Think about it for a minute.  First, let’s get a good definition of some terms we have used, and often do use interchangeably, though they have some different meaning–The Law of Consecration, The United Order, and Zion.  The Law of Consecration is a law which we covenant to live now.  In this we offer all to the Lord.  This can (and I believe should) be lived, by all who are under the covenant, today.  By striving to use all our time, talents, energies, and means to accomplish the will of the Lord, we become pure in heart.  The United Order is accomplished as the Priesthood takes an active role in directing the consecration of the people.  Zion comes when all of this is perfected.

Perfection has an unreachable sound to it.  I will propose that perfection isn’t quite what we often picture in our minds.  Agency is an eternal principle, therefore, perfection must be able to take many forms, so long as it blesses instead of harms others in the long run.

So maybe, Zion isn’t exactly so distant.  We can consecrate ourselves now.  We can live that law and come very near the United Order through our offerings to the Church and other worthy institutions, as well as in our families.  Zion can follow when the Lord decides we are ready.  Nibley Quotes Brigham Young:

When we conclude to make a Zion, we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person.

 It  seems to me that our part is quite simple–repent and turn our heart to making Zion.  I believe Zion flows from the person who decides to build it.  It influences first his or her family.  It can then be passed on to friends and others who catch the spirit.  When the Lord decides it is time, he will create Zion from our Zion.  However, we can enjoy the benefits of Zion at home, right now, if we so choose.

 Moving on, it now becomes necessary to define Babylon.  Again, from Nibley:

Throughout the scriptures, Zion is brought into clearest focus by placing it against a dark background; and like Zion, that background world is given a code name:  Babylon.  Babylon, like Zion, is a real society–a type, place, and environment of human existence, described in the scriptures with great clarity and precision.  (The word Babylon is not just a general term to indicate anything that is not Zion; it is the designation of a very particular and specific type of society.)  Though Babylon is vividly described by the prophets, the best way to define her is as the exact opposite of Zion in all things.  Babylon is just as pure in its way as Zion; it is pure evil–for even good, when it becomes contaminated and perverted, becomes an evil.  The main thing is that Babylon and Zion cannot mix in any degree; a Zion that makes concessions is no longer Zion.

From here, we move back to the thesis.  We cannot use create Zion from Babylon.  Government is at best a protection for the righteous from Babylon.  At it’s worst, government is the servant of Babylon.  Most are somewhere in between.  In a Democracy or Republic, or whatever form you call it that is controlled by the people, the general righteousness or wickedness of the people tends to determine this.  Consider Helaman 5: 1-4:

And it came to pass that in this same year, behold, Nephi delivered up the judgment-seat to a man whose name was Cezoram.  For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.  Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.  And it came to pass that Nephi had become weary because of their iniquity; and he yielded up the judgment-seat, and took it upon him to preach the word of God all the remainder of his days, and his brother Lehi also, all the remainder of his days

Nibley also sums up the problem of trying to use Babylon to create Zion:

Zion has never made war on Babylon, for when the environment has become too foul for Zion, she has simply been removed.  Babylon is always reserved for the burning–she is never converted or reformed; though many may leave her for Zion, her fate is to be overthrown, violently, suddenly, unexpectedly, and completely by the direct intervention of God.

So the idea that we can use the government to get where we want to be is little more than a trick of Babylon to compromise Zion.  If Babylon can get us to keep a foot in their door, they hope to get us to stick around for the destruction as well.  The scriptures offer a better way–leave Babylon behind.  Leave her sins behind, all of them, from sexual impurity to the love of money to pride, vanity and everything else.  Only by creating as much Zion as we can are we safe from the destruction.

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  1. Kerry

     /  August 29, 2012

    I can trace a clear evolution in your ideas and arguments from this blog-impressive, articulate and well researched! I think many, in and out of the church, could learn from this blog. Thanks for your diligence in your writings!

  2. Brinton

     /  August 29, 2012

    There is a definite evolution in what the focus is on. I hope to have switched focus from Thoreau’s proverbial “leaves” of problems to the “roots.”


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