Zion

From Sean's Gospel Topical Guide
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  • Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:283
"There is not one thing wanting in all the works of God's hands to make a Zion upon the earth when the people conclude to make it. We can make a Zion of God on earth at our pleasure upon the same principle that we can raise a field of wheat..."
"When we conclude to make a Zion we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person."
"blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion [in the last days]"
14)And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it."
19)For behold, the righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off.
"the Lord shall comfort Zion... he will make her wilderness like Eden"
"the redeemed of the Lord shall return... unto Zion"
"many people shall go... up to the mountain of the Lord"
"out of Zion shall go forth the law"
Description of Zion and conditions after the destruction.
"the poor of his people shall trust in [Zion]"
"if [the laborer in Zion] labor for money they shall perish"
"Zion shall be redeemed with judgement"
Causes me to consider Melchizedek, who brought about an apparent Zion state in the role of a civil authority.
  • Brigham Young, "Building Up Zion, Etc", Journal of Discourses, 13:151-153,155
Comments on building up Zion.
Unity required.
People hindered by false traditions and vain desires.
People don't know what they want.
  • J. Reuben Clark, "Private Ownership under the United Order and the Guarantees of the Constitution", Improvement Era, Nov. 1942
The U.S. Constitution is the "law of Zion."
"Essentials of the United order" already in place.
  • History of the Church 3:388-389
Also available in "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith", Ch. 8, pp. 105-106

"[Adam] wanted to bring [his posterity] into the presence of God. They looked for a city, etc., ['whose builder and maker is God' - Heb. 11:10]. Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God, through the power of the Priesthood, but he could not."
  • Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", p. 21-22
When Zion is properly regulated, there will be a Bishop to each square (block?) in a pattern set down by Joseph Smith.
There should be the greatest familiarity and freedom amongst the rulers (leaders) in Zion. (ie. Communication between leaders should be uninhibited and information should not be kept back from a Bishop.)
Bishop to know all things pertaining to Zion as he is called as a judge and must have a knowledge of the affairs of Zion to do so.
  • Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", p. 77
"...the Lord has manifested by revelation of His Spirit, that ... all the officers in the land of Clay County, Missouri, belonging to the Church, are more or less in transgression, because they have not enjoyed the Spirit of God sufficiently to be able to comprehend their duties respecting themselves and the welfare of Zion; thereby having been left to act in a manner that is detrimental to the interest, and also a hindrance to the redemption of Zion. Now if they will be wise, they will humble themselves in a peculiar manner that God may open the eyes of their understanding. It will be clearly manifested what the design and purposes of the Almighty are with regard to them, and the children of Zion, that they should let the High Council, which is appointed of God and ordained for that purpose, make and regulate all the affairs of Zion, and that it is the will of God that her children should stand still and see the salvation of redemption."
  • Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", pp. 78-79
Joseph Smith explains that the Lord revealed to him the location of the center spot for the gathering of Zion and how he undertook to dedicate the land and then convince others to gather.
  • Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", p. 107
Joseph Smith beheld the redemption of Zion.

Notes

It has been my observation that there are Saints, and probably a significant number of them, who disbelieve in the viability of a Zion society. I think, that at least in some cases, this is tied to a rejection of some principles of The Constitution of the United States of America. Particularly rejected seems to be the principle of moral liberty. That is, the freedom to make moral choices, so long as they don't infringe upon the fundamental rights of others. Symptoms of this rejections are: support for hate-crime legislation, support for legally disenfranchising businesses that reject business based on personal morals.

Zion as an Exotic State of Society

I have long thought of Zion as something analogous to an exotic state of matter, like superfluidity or superconductivity. In superconductivity, lowering the temperature of certain materials below a certain threshold allows current to flow without resistance. Researchers have started a pulse going through a loop and observed that the pulse continues to propagate around the loop for years apparently unimpeded.

Sociologically, we can see a similar phenomenon in traffic. Traffic has its own analog to resistance. As traffic presses forward, people change lanes and and press forward, which will sometimes require that someone else has to slow down to avoid a collision. This can result in back-propogating waves of brake lights that can persist for miles slowing down huge masses of traffic. While it is common to vilify individuals for "cutting someone off", it is odd to note that an odd thing happens when traffic density approaches a special band of values. Suddenly, traffic starts to flow smoothly, without resistance.

Zion has some of the same characteristics as these kinds of exotic states. First, one of its hallmarks seems to be sustainability. The City of Enoch, for example resisted all outside threats and was eventually taken up, and is presumed to have remained in its Zion state until even this very day. The Zion state is also described as eliminating all poverty and hunger. A Zion city is feared by all enemies who would threaten its peace.

As we study the Book of Mormon, we commonly discuss a pattern we refer to as pride cycles. This seems to be the same as the phenomena that researcher, Peter Turchin, refers to as secular cycles. Times of peace and prosperity lead to times of greed and pride, which leads to wars and destruction, which leads to humility and cooperation, which leads to peace and prosperity. Peter Turchin describes the cycles more in terms of social stability. Social stability and prosperity leads to growing inequality, discontent, increased competition among elites, political instability, and violence, which leads to a kind of return to our roots and cooperation, which creates social stability and prosperity.

Normally we think of poverty and hunger being caused by theft, laziness, drought, or other natural disasters. There are clear causes in the environment and in the behavior of individuals. However, traffic is no different, and even the physical phenomena of fluid flow and current have analogous elements.

The inhabitants of Zion are said to have all property in common, which leads some to compare Zion with Socialism. Socialism, however, fails due, largely to the problem of the commons, whereby, people sharing a common resource are incentivized to act selfishly, destroying the resource and dooming themselves. The example of a commonly held lake is often used. A commonly held lake will soon be fished out, because if you don't take the fish, someone else will. There is nothing to be gained by acting selflessly. To counteract the problem of the commons, under socialism, a governing body which controls access to the lake must be created, however, since the lake is said to belong to everybody, and no method of distinguishing who should have access can be established (eg. someone being willing to pay for access), the lakes still tend to be fished out, or corruption in the government grants access only to the politically connected, or nobody gets access. Capitalism does better in that either some individual or government will own the lake and is incentivized to either sell what the lake provides, or sell access to the lake. A property owner is also incentivized to protect and maintain their property. Nevertheless capitalism, as we have observed it, while doing better at reducing hunger than socialism, does not eliminate it altogether. As has been observed earlier, hunger appears to persist because of theft, laziness, drought, or other natural disasters.

Peter Turchin has observed that when societies are stable, droughts and pestilences still happen, but their negative effects are generally minimized by society's cooperative action.

In modern revelation, we learn that those following the law of consecration, which is a foundational principle of Zion, give of their surplus to a storehouse to be used for those who are in want. The implication is that individuals in Zion do maintain and develop property. Otherwise they would have nothing that could be called a surplus which they could choose to give. Indeed J. Reuben Clark has described that individual property ownership is a necessary part of Zion. This explains how the problem of the commons is overcome, but not how poverty and hunger is eliminated.

In superfluidity, friction is not eliminated directly. You do not create a superfluid by greasing the pipes. A superfluid is created by creating conditions which lead the particles of the fluid to act together in a way that eliminates friction. Similarly, you can't eliminate problems with traffic flow by adding traffic cops or creating laws against "bad" behavior. Rather, traffic flow is perfected by controlling the traffic density. Superconductivity is created by controlling the temperature of the proper materials so as to create the right environment to eliminate resistance. In the same way, we will probably not create Zion by extolling the virtues of cooperation, punishing theft, or preaching the virtues of work. Certainly we can help individuals that way, but we will not fix society that way.

Theft (including taxes) and laziness are like friction. They are obvious and apparent villains, but they are villains that can't be eliminated by direct attack. Similarly, when we study the pride cycle, we often hear the suggestion that eliminating pride might be able to end the pride cycle. However, that seems unlikely to be true. Individuals can be selfless, but in a state where conflict is high, selflessness in one often encourages selfishness in others. Instead, it is my expectation that finding some appropriate analog to pressure and temperature, for a society, may allow us to create a society in which theft and laziness disappear, and in which external threats are minimized and overcome.

Cross-References