Episode 141: D&C 42 – Section 59 (feat. Jim Van Heel)

January 7, 2017


Episode 141: D&C 42 – Section 59 (feat. Jim Van Heel)

Jim teaches us the hierarchical structure of the church because Marie doesn’t know what a General Authority is, and be advised that Duke of Earl Grey is now the show’s General Authority (woo hoo!). Joseph Smith repeats a semblance of the 10 commandments, and really that’s it. Turns out going to the Bishop to confess is a Thing that happens, and apparently we’re supposed to be happy when we’re fasting. It’s bad to be wasteful and don’t be a jerk, and be an environmentalist. Got questions? Scoot, god doesn’t have time for them.

Job is a man/chapter in the Bible.

I swear I learned a song in Sunday School that used the verse “love the lord thy god with all they heart”, but I couldn’t find one with a familiar tune, so really all I did was royally mess up my YouTube video recommendations. I recommend listening to anything from Chvrches, they’re pretty cool, and you can say “I’m listening to Chvrch music!”

Drink count – 10, or a bit over one beer


Read along with us at http://joelakuhn.com/dc-compare/
Support the show by becoming a Patron over at Patreon.com/MyBookofMormonPodcast
Drop me a line at comments@mybookofmormonpodcast.com
Podcastriarchal blessing: Anna F
Podcastriarchal music is Our Happy Life by Maps and Transit, edited for length

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7 Comments on “Episode 141: D&C 42 – Section 59 (feat. Jim Van Heel)”

  1. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    Jim was a great guest. Have him on the show any time!

    That phrase “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” does indeed refer to a repentant attitude, and it was used several times in the Book of Mormon, and even a few times already in the D&C. It’s an adaptation of Psalms 51:16-17, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offerings. the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Perhaps the most notable use of the phrase is when it was spoken by Jesus in his booming sky voice to poor, huddled Nephites, as they sat in darkness for three days, after their entire civilization was destroyed by earthquakes and tempests, after Jesus apparently decided he was pretty pissed off about having just been killed, and thought he’d take it out on the Nephites, even though they had nothing to do with it.

    I think the verse here about Sunday being a time to confess sins “unto thy brethren” is particularly strange to a modern Mormon’s ear. While you get the occasional person who, as Jim was saying, likes to share TMI in testimony meetings, I think often those are people with mild mental illness, or else desperately lonely or misunderstood individuals, who want a captive audience to hear their problems. There’s really very little encouragement in Mormonism to ever specifically mention your sins in public, only to privately confess to the bishop or to the person you’ve wronged. For example, missionaries are specifically instructed not to share their own “past transgressions” with people they’re teaching, even if they think it will be helpful to do so.

    I believe the church fears that publicly mentioning your specific sins will normalize those sins, and encourage other people to sin in the same way. They’ll see that Brother So-and-So was able to commit that sin, and still repent, and still be a member in good standing. It’s as if the church wants you to think that Christ only died for the vague, not-too-serious sins of everyone else, but your own sins are uniquely horrible, and you’ll find repentance harder than you think. They’re hoping you’ll either be too scared to dare disobey the church in the first place, or too scared to disobey again if you ever want God’s forgiveness.


    • My Book of Mormon Says:

      My brain just broke. There are monthly church meetings where everyone is encouraged to talk about how great god is for forgiving their sins, but you’re not supposed to talk about those specific sins? How does that even work, logistically? It is a long meeting where everyone is vague on top of vague, then sits down? That’s the kind of meeting my younger self would have fallen asleep to, and my current self would break out the knitting.

      Separately, Jim is the *nicest* guy. Everyone should be so lucky to have him randomly stop by and talk Mormonese with you in your kitchen.


      • Duke of Earl Grey Says:

        Oh, I suppose some people may get specific, if their sins are obviously run-of-the-mill, like “I got mad and yelled at my wife the other day”. Everyone’s done stuff like that sometimes, and church doesn’t kick up a fuss about it. They’ll just tell you to pray for forgiveness, make restitution if necessary, and try to do better in the future.

        It’s the more serious sins I’m talking about, the kind that keep people out of the temple, the kind where you need to confess to the Bishop and accept his judgment before your repentance can be acceptable before God, those are the ones that you want to keep private, even if you’ve resolved them. You’re very rarely going to hear someone get up in Sacrament Meeting and talk about the time they committed adultery, or got an abortion, or tried an iced tea on a lark. 🙂

        Now, I can recall the occasional instance where a person felt comfortable talking specifically about serious past sins in front of a congregation, but typically those people had converted to the church as adults, and were talking about their life before the Gospel fixed them. Of course no one’s going to judge them harshly, when they didn’t have the influence of the Holy Ghost to help them stay out of sin. Their story reinforces how great it is to become a member of the church, so there’s nothing wrong with that.

        But when you grow up in the church, and supposedly have the Holy Ghost at your side from the age of 8, how can you justify slipping into major sins, let alone boasting about it? You’d either portray yourself as a particularly terrible person, capable of things no one else in the room has done (as far as you know), or worse, you portray the church as having been impotent to help you avoid those sins in the first place. Why should the church encourage anyone to consider that embarrassing possibility?


  2. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    Here’s a bit more about fasting in the church, if you’re not tired of me yet. “Fast Sunday” is usually the first Sunday of the month, and we’ve all heard hackneyed jokes about why do they call it Fast Sunday, when the day seems to pass anything but quickly? On that day, members are supposed to abstain from food AND drink for two consecutive meals in a 24-hour period, which means once a month your typical, faithful Mormon, after having lunch or dinner on Saturday, will not eat or drink another thing until lunch or dinner on Sunday. Or at least, your typical Mormon will feel guilty about not having fasted so extensively. Personally, I loathed fasting, and never felt the slightest spiritual benefit from it. Even at my most believing, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I heard, “Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.”

    It’s funny that the primary message of Section 59 is proper observance of the Sabbath Day, but very few of the modern church’s guidelines are laid out here. Huh… Actually, this subject makes me think back to the previous episode, when Bryce laughed at D&C 58:26, “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things”, and said it was a refutation of the entire premise of Mormonism. But is it? I don’t know. Yes, we know the modern church has a penchant for micro-managing its members’ lives, having a handbook full of rules (and even a plethora of unwritten ones) going beyond what the canonical scriptures themselves instruct, and establishing a nice little Pharisaic hedge around the law. But by having commandments “not a few”, and yet also criticizing those that need to be commanded in all things as being slothful, the church leaves the most scrupulously righteous Mormons with only one conclusion to reach, that God expects them to act above and beyond everything the church asks them to do, as much as that already is. This will result in some people designing even wider hedges for themselves to keep the world out, which not only keeps them even tighter in the church, but has the convenient side-effect of helping the church identify its most faithful members.

    I was lucky enough to grow up in a family with a pretty moderate view of Sabbath observance. We went to church, fulfilled church responsibilities, didn’t do work on Sunday (if we could help it, and we couldn’t always help it), and didn’t (usually) do anything that would cause other people to have to work on Sunday, like go out shopping. Other than that, we were allowed to do most anything we would do any other day. And yet, certain families had their own rules about Sunday, not even dictated by the church, but also never contradicted by the church. In those families, they wouldn’t watch TV, or play outside, or maybe not even play inside. They would spend the day reading scriptures, or watching church videos. Those families wouldn’t even get out of their church clothes when they got home. They’d wear those clothes all day, and you could bet those boys’ neckties didn’t have irreverent Looney Tunes characters all over them, or Tabasco alligators, or Lt. Worf!

    Those families didn’t need the church to compel them to do this, they did it to themselves, and how could the church fail to see and reward such expressions of righteous zeal? I rather expect the fathers of such families are better represented in the upper echelons of the church than those who contented themselves with the mere letter of the law in their outward comportment, and thank goodness for that! Otherwise, all those kids passing around the sacrament each Sunday might be flaunting dress shirts of blue, or pink, or mustard yellow, instead of uniformly, God-sanctioned white!

    (Wow, I apparently have nothing better to do on a Saturday night. God, I need a girlfriend…)


  3. MarsGirl Says:

    Thanks for having Jim Van Heel on the show again; I always enjoy hearing his perspective. I really enjoyed your interchange of critical commentary especially when you got to D&C 59:20-21 (minute 61) where you discussed God’s mercurial nature. When TBM’s read these passages do they not realize how mean and spiteful their Mormon God can be? Or are they okay with such an authoritarian?

    It is interesting that the heading for D&C 59 in Jim’s 1981 version (which is also mine) doesn’t mention Polly Knight whereas the newly “adjusted” 2013 version does by pointing out that she was the first member to die in Zion. What does this have to do with D&C 59? Is the Church trying to throw a bone to its female members to acknowledge a little more the role that women played in Mormon history? Just saying.

    And thanks again, Duke of Earl Grey, for you commentary…you rule!


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