"Yourself a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost — cast behind you all conformity, and acquaint men at first hand with Deity."
(Emerson, "Address to Divinity School," 1838)
Who doesn't want to know God first-hand?
We are on a journey of spiritual self-reclamation, taking the Holy Spirit for our guide, trusting in Christ's light to lead us beyond the veil of darkness through the mists of manmade commandments, into the holy-of-holies that is God's word dwelling in us.
This journey is the greatest adventure of our lifetimes.
The Road Less Traveled
I've mentioned before that I miss the age of exploration, when the corners of the globe were still covered in mystery and before videos and satellites removed the suspense of the unknown.
Perhaps that is why I have always been fascinated by the Lewis and Clark expedition. If we think of life as a spiritual expedition, then are we Lewis and Clark? Thomas Jefferson? Sacagawea? One of the nameless enlisted officers loitering about camp?
Sometimes I wonder what part we are playing in the story that is happening today in 2022.
Are we blazing new spiritual trails or are we drifting along in our canoe?
Change is Coming
If you're wondering why I have written this Series about trusting our inner Compass, allowing the light of Christ to illuminate the way forward, the reason is simple:
Zion is not going to come from more of the same. Zion will never arise from business-as-usual. Or from a hierarchy.
The status quo has to change. Or nothing will change.
I know it can be scary exploring uncharted terrain, relying on the word of God and leaving behind the creature-comforts of settled civilization (i.e. "religion").
But Joseph Smith did it, and so can we.
Joseph walked away from all of the established religions of his day in search of greater light and knowledge from his Father.
I sometimes think it is ironic that those of us who have inherited the legacy of Joseph Smith's Great Experiment have turned it into another . . . religion.
Joseph abandoned the very thing we have become.
And so at night, as I listen to the quiet hum of the refrigerator and the occasional bark of my neighbor's dog, I ask myself if the reason we're incapable of building Zion is because we are unwilling to leave behind the trappings of the Great and Abominable Church, which we keep creating anew and giving a new name.
Authority. Wealth. And status.
Pride Goeth Before the Fall
Perhaps the greatest creature comfort of all is certainty.
How wonderful to be in God's true Church, as we are told in Fast and Testimony meeting, assured of salvation because of our rites and covenants ― as if the Catholic Church did not write the book on saving sacraments 1700 years ago!
The spirit of Sectarianism is alive and well today.
Which is funny when you think about it, because we're so pleased to have "the truth" while viewing others as being on the wrong path ― when we are all squished into the same, cramped crowd; when we are enjoying Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale, marching along the broad way.
For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.
Why does Christ refer to it as the "broad" way?
(Doesn't he like musical theater?)
Is it because so many of us are packed into the Interstate at rush hour in a sort of spiritual traffic jam, rushing out of town on Labor Day weekend, all using the same highway the devil built to be 40 lanes wide to accommodate as many travelers as possible, and yet we're still stuck in traffic?!
At a Crossroads
What I like about the 'Broad Way' is that the trail is clearly marked.
While hiking, there's no getting lost because all the foot traffic has created a well-worn path where no vegetation grows.
I also like how Broad Way has large, comfortable trail heads with restrooms and picnic areas. It was considerate of the forest rangers to install park benches along the way so we can take frequent breaks.
But do you know what I hate about the Straight and Narrow Way? How poorly maintained it is! I mean, it's like no one pays any taxes to upkeep the trail.
And why does no one tell us that the Straight and Narrow Path lies in a jungle where we have to use a machete to hack through the dense rainforest, walking into cobwebs and tarantulas and poisonous lizards?
But the Broad Way? Safe as can be. No danger. No flesh-eating insects . . .
. . . just friendly tour guides wearing name badges telling us to stick with the tour group, follow them, and enjoy the sights.
While it is scary to cast off on our own, following the dictates of our own conscience, seeking God without a safety net, there is hope.
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.