Thursday, January 8, 1970

Confrontation with Stake President

[About events on and about August 17, 1965]
Updated: 25 Oct 2013



From today's perspective (25 Oct 13), the reflections below reveal a critical turning point in this "Odyssey". Clearly, I did not know then how it would play out (as if I do even now!). All I knew then was that I was following my own conscience, rather than that of anyone else. Much in my inner and outer life was in commotion.

It took almost a month before the stake president could see me.

When I handed newly ordained Laguna Beach Ward bishop Michael Brown the envelope containing the revelation of that morning on July 25, 1965, he was shaken after reading it later in the day. His distressed counsel when we met again that evening was that I pray to get over what had happened and in the meantime he would put the envelope and contents in his filing cabinet to forget it.

"No, Bishop", I responded, "you mustn't treat it this way. It is because of prayer that this has happened. This cannot be your individual call. [He did express himself emphatically as being so inspired.] If it is beyond your understanding, it must go to higher levels. I need to get before a body of wise churchmen, such as the high council, and if you cannot take the issue that seriously, then I must take it out of your hands. Since I am a member of the Melchizedek priesthood, this issue needs to be heard at least at a stake level and before a collective body. And since you will not refer it to that level, I will take charges out against myself for 'apostasy, heresy and false doctrine', because that is how you are treating it. Is that not so?"

"Yes", he admitted. "That is so, but you wouldn't do such a thing!"

"Yes, I would indeed!" and did. After returning home that evening I wrote such a letter and sent it to him.

Weeks later, on Tuesday evening, August 17, Stake president Barry Knudson summoned me to his office. I was puzzled it took so long.

(Note: Very early that Tuesday morning, I awakened with the realization that my life was suddenly "out of my hands". [Ricks College mentor Howard E. Salisbury's September 1959 prophesy came to mind: "You will be taken out of your hands..."] The Monday morning before that, on August 16, I had had two other short directive dreams. The first presented "...a strong feeling about the rightness of the order of things" and "feeling to be about my business..." In the second dream things are now "in order" and "...am directed to begin [my mission] and not fear..." The week before these three dreams, I had also dreamed about the "order" of things AND warned about "a law bent. Perplexing. Understanding near: due.")

When we met on August 17 Pres. Knudson asked, "Brother, were you serious in asking for excommunication?"

"No, President", I answered in an attempt to explain, "I was not. I grant you it was not very smart, but it was the only thing I could think of at the time to be taken seriously. I am in need of counsel because of this experience and wish to stand before the high council to discuss it. Not defend it."

Evidently ignoring my explanation and expressed need, he continued as if mindlessly reading from a script, "Well, it is my duty to warn you about the consequences of such behavior....", and then proceeded to list steps in the standard ecclesiastical procedure of excommunication. He ended by saying, "It seems you cannot take counsel."

"On the contrary, sir, I am willing to counsel with anyone at any level about this matter or anything else. But when it comes to matters of ultimate authority, one must obey his own conscience."

"Oh, no brother! He exclaimed with alarm. "That is not correct. That is saying you cannot take counsel."

I could not comprehend this. "On that, President, I fight!" I barked, vigorously pounding his desk with my fist.

Stunned and surprised, Knudson quickly reacted. "Give me your temple recommend!"

Now it was I who was stunned and I fumbled nervously in my wallet for the demanded document. Befuddled, I sat down to give it to him. Then, since there was no more to be said between us, I got back up and left the room.

Shortly afterwards I recalled the dream about "A law Bent" and realized its "understanding due" alert had been met. The "law" it referred to was apparently the primacy of personal conscience and that my "job" was to stay true to that insight, no matter what.

21 Aug 2013.  Ironically, after having given the stake president (Barry Knudson) my recommend at his demand, I discovered later that I'd given him a lapsed version and that I still had the current document in my wallet. I was still able to attend the temple to meditate, as I loved to do. I also realized that Knudson still retained the original revelation of which I had made no copies. So I managed to see him again with an offer to exchange the current recommend for the original document. He agreed and I made copies of it as soon as I could.

I do not now know where the original is. The last I saw of it is when I appeared before the Newport Beach stake high council in fall 1968, presided over by stake president Ferren L. Christensen, after asking for a rehearing of my 1966 excommunication. The rehearing (which was cordial) was granted and I was invited to return to the Church. I declined at that time, but gave the original document now in my possession to Christensen, saying "President, this belongs in your hands. What you do with it is up to you, but my job has been to survive long enough to give it to you. Thank you for your consideration and goodbye".

I never expected to return. Nevertheless, my re-baptism would occur in summer 1975.

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