About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery (joelsmonastery.blogspot.com). He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

Book Review: Zion Earth, Zen Sky

Book Review: Zion Earth, Zen Sky, by Charles Shiro Inouye

As a historian, Ive read many biographies and autobiographies from people, both famous and obscure. As with most autobiographies, this one generally occurs in chronological order. But that is where the similarities end.

This is the first autobiography I’ve ever read filled with Haiku. Inouye, a Japanese American, shares his life’s story in vignettes that share with us his deepest feelings, learnings, trials and triumphs. It begins by telling us a little bit about his grandparents, born in Japan, moving to America to work. His parents grew up in two different states, but were brought together into one Japanese interment camp during World War II. Release from the camp after the war, and marriage, led them to abandon their former states and settle in (of all places) southern Utah!

He tells of growing up on his father’s farm: hard work, long hours, and his decision to go his own way, rather than take over the family farm. He talks of his mission, college, marriage, divorce, children, remarriage, and many other events in his life.

And while many of these brief stories are interesting in and of themselves, what is of greater worth are the lessons he learned and shares with us that really are impactful. His world view is unlike mine and most Latter-day Saints in the United States. He joined the Church as a youth, but he still was planted firmly in Japanese culture, food, and religion (Zen Buddhism). For this last reference, he shares insights that are useful to members as we grow into an international church with a variety of cultures and backgrounds that are quickly changing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a predominantly white Anglo-Saxon faith in the Great Salt Lake Basin, to a world-wide church with more members in other nations.

As I noted above, the vignettes are interspersed with Japanese poetry, or Haiku. Each of these poems connect closely and directly with the stories. These are contemporary poems that share with us the feelings tied to events in Inouye’s life. After telling about his young adult life, he shares:

a world gone to hell
John Lennon gets murdered and
Mick Jagger goes grey

He compares connections between gospel and Zen teachings. I was surprised at how many important issues are shared: taking care of the poor, focus on doing good things, etc.

In talking about caring for the poor, he notes that Zen Buddhism helps the follower to let go of greed and possessions, and give all one’s excess to those in real need. Comparing this to Zion’s lofty goal of caring for the needy and having “no poor among them,” we learn how short we come to God’s ideal society for us:

the hands that hang down-
my stake president drives a
black BMW

I’d hate to be Inouye’s stake president after reading this Haiku, but there is no mistaking that sometimes in our search for “personal self reliance,” we go beyond taking care of our needs to indulging in excessive creature comforts, while many in the world suffer due to famine, poverty, war, pestilence, plagues, slavery, and destruction.

Another important concept has to do with raking. Inouye discusses the peacefulness one finds in a Japanese garden. Many of these gardens are little more than a few carefully placed rocks with sand surrounding them. They seem to be a place of quiet perfection. But, as the author notes, perfection in this temporal world is fleeting. All it takes is for a leaf from a nearby tree to gently fall upon the sand, and suddenly, chaos disturbs the perfection and order. All one can do is rake and re-rake the sand, hoping to be able to keep up with the entropy continually being introduced in the world.

And so, he calls many things he does in his life, raking. These include scripture study, prayer, service, enduring to the end. We may think we’ve achieved a perfect little world at some point in our lives, but then comes the unexpected storms that shift the sands in our garden. Again, we must rake.

The book is entertaining and interesting. It is also very personal, as Inouye speaks of the spirits that have visited him, his divorce, and trying to break out of his introverted and isolated shell. Again, the Haikus entertain and lay bare the heart of each story.

The last several chapters focus more on spiritual thoughts that touch on both Latter-day Saint doctrine and Zen Buddhism. His views on Satan and those demons who followed him:

“Evil is surprisingly simple. Satan has no body. He and his followers only have pretend legs, arm, mouths and eyes that we give them. They like to make believe they are us. But there is not much to be gained by our believing we are them. They have no  drink or food to give us, certainly no fruit or cookies.”

Of course, this insight is followed by a wonderful poem:

seething with envy-
the dancing bears of Satan
have no hips or lips

Again, he shares his thoughts on the importance of believing in God. A lecturer spoke on the foolishness of those who believe in God. As he listened, he thought,

“Why do we not believe? Why turn that part of our minds off? If someone can sing, what does he or she gain by not singing?”

In other words, if believing in God brings you peace, joy, hope, and happiness, why stop believing simply because some intellectual mocks belief? What do you gain by not believing in God?

Inouye’s experiences often come as if through a child’s eyes. When something different comes to him, he is elated at the new knowledge. At one point in his university career, a science professor brought him some text books. In one book was a picture of the heliosphere. It is the “atmosphere” of the sun that extends beyond Pluto, and includes the solar winds and radiation that gives life to earth. For the author, the thought that the earth not only goes “around” the sun, but also “through” the sun (its heliosphere), brings new life to both our experience in the cosmos and also in the world of prepositions.

I did note a few throwaway thoughts and stories. I’ll share here.one here.

He asked a group of Buddhist monks why they did not encourage the people to study their holy writings, as we do with the Bible here in the West. The monks were surprised by the question, discussed it among themselves, then finally said they didn’t want to confuse the followers. Inouye notes he thought about it and decided it was a good thing, noting that Paul chastised the Greeks on Mars Hill for seeking knowledge but still not knowing the “unknown god.”

As I thought about this, I felt entirely different regarding knowledge. D&C 88 tells us to “seek out of the best books” and to learn by “study and by faith.” We are encouraged by prophets to study the scriptures daily. Even Inouye rejoices in the things he’s learned through decades of study and research. Only recently in Western civilization did we have religious leaders forbid the study of scripture by the average person, claiming they did not want them confused. Tyndale and others lost their lives for translating the Bible into English, wishing that the plow boy could be as versed in scripture as the priest. Such study splintered Christianity into a variety of beliefs – confusion. Yet, it also opened the door to greater light, knowledge, and the very Restoration that Inouye loves.

Yes, there is a risk of confusion. However, the risk comes from not enough study. As Alexander Pope wrote,

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.”

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience of reading “Zion earth, Zen sky.” As I noted, it was different, very different, than any other autobiography I’ve ever read. I liked how the stories are laid out in short vignettes, each bringing an important life lesson for Inouye and for the reader. I loved the Haikus. The poetry tied stories, themes, and teachings together. Often, they screamed truth, other times they brought a laugh. They illuminated the book.

I hope you will give “Zion earth, Zen sky” a fair reading. Like me, you’ll come off better and from the experience.

Maxwell Institute

Available August 31, 2021

Preorder at Amazon

Come Follow Me: D&C 88

My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 88 the Olive Leaf

D&C 87, the Prophecy on War and Slavery, was given on Christmas Day, 1832. It was an amazing, but unnerving, prophecy.
A few days later, the Lord would begin to give Joseph a prophecy over a few weeks that would be known as the “Olive Leaf.” A revelation filled with wisdom and peace for the Saints to rejoice over.

The Holy Spirit of Promise

What is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost?
The Lord first explains a new role of the Holy Ghost: Not only is it the testifier of the Father and the Son, as well as the Comforter and Constant Companion of the faithful, but now we learn that it is the “Holy Spirit of Promise,” or the “Other Comforter.”
This is an important concept leading towards the concepts of the temple. We learn that the Holy Spirit of Promise must seal an ordinance or act upon a person for that event to be sealed on earth and in heaven. In other words, there is a line upon line, precept upon precept of progression in having the Holy Ghost.

We begin with the “Light of Truth” or “Light of Christ,” which we will learn more regarding of it in D&C 93..
As a process, receiving the Holy Ghost on levels is an important part of the Doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11).


Come Follow Me: D&C 85-87

My blog post for Come Follow Me: D&C 85-87

Joseph Smith’s Prophecy on War (D&C 87) is a big thorn in the side of those critics of the Mormon Prophet. Some claim that ‘everyone knew that the North and South were going to war, so it wasn’t that big of a prophecy.’ However, the evidence is against that statement. Elder Orson Hyde supplemented that prophecy in 1858, claiming the destructions and wars were about to come upon the U.S.

When he made these claims, many eastern newspapers quoted him, mocking him. There was no way the States were going to war, according to the papers. In 1862, Elder Hyde commented on this fact as further evidence that the American people did not consider this prophecy valid prior to its accomplishment.

Secondly, we shall see that the Prophecy of War goes well beyond the Civil War, and deals with events down to our own day.


Come Follow Me: D&C 81-83

My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 81-83


D&C 81
This revelation was originally given to Jesse Gause, calling him to be a counselor to Joseph Smith. Not much is known about Gause, but the Joseph Smith Papers Project notes a few things about him. First, he moved around a lot. He first joined the Quakers in his early adult life. After the death of his first wife, he joined the Shakers in 1829 and married again. He possibly joined the Shakers, because many of his in-laws were of that faith, and he needed assistance caring for his children from his first marriage. Moving to Ohio, he heard of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and was baptized sometime before his appointment as counselor in 1832. Gause served for about a month as a scribe on the Joseph Smith Translation, and was sent on a mission, including to the Shakers, where he unsuccessfully attempted to convince his wife to join the Church. He left his mission companion, Zebedee Coltrin, in August 1832 – supposedly to return to his wife and the Shakers.

Frederick Williams would soon be called to replace Gause in the First Presidency.


Come Follow Me: D&C 77-80

My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 77-80

D&C 77
This revelation was given as part of Joseph and Sidney’s work on translating the Bible. As mentioned before, Joseph didn’t actually translate the Bible, as he never used ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Instead, he used an English Bible purchased at the E. B. Grandin printing press shop. He possibly also used other materials available, such as a commentary, to go through the .Bible. Much of the process, rather than a translation process, was revelatory. The Bible and exercise, as with translating other documents, were catalysts for inspiration and revelation. This is evidenced by the fact that there are no examples of some writings in Joseph’s translation of the Bible, such as writings on Moses, Adam, Enoch (Book of Moses), Melchizedek, Joseph of Egypt, etc. These writing do not exist anywhere, except in Joseph’s translation of the Bible.

In translating the Book of Rev elation, Joseph had questions regarding some of the beings and events in the book.