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In The Beginning
I don't remember being born but I have a birth certificate that says I was born on August 12, 1960 in Upland, California. Upland is about fifty miles east of Los Angeles, but it might as well be five hundred miles away from nowhere. My father’s name is John Paul Morton and my mother’s name is Frances. I will now use my father’s words to explain how he met my mother. "A guy that I met says he has to take his girlfriends drivers license to her in Ontario, would I like to go. I jokingly asked if she had a friend and to my delight he said yes. Off we go on a thirty-mile goose chase to Upland. About fifteen minutes later we pull up to this little white stucco house on Sultana Ave. I don't even remember the guy’s name but he caused my life to change.” “When he knocked on the door a young girl answered it. I took a good look at her and I have to tell you my heart was stolen. We stayed there until after midnight before her gruff old father invited us to leave. Your mother was fifteen years old then and I was an old man of nineteen. I continued to make the twenty mile trip from Azusa to Upland every night to see your mother, I had no doubt from the first time I saw her that I wanted to marry her, and she felt the same way. We dated for several months and finally we decided to get married. The only problem was our ages. I was nineteen and she was just fifteen. Your mother had a birthday on July ninth. That was the day we decided to get married.”
“We had to wait until July twelfth, Aunt Lola's birthday, to get a reason to go to Mexico to do it. We set out for San Diego late on the eleventh saying we were going to Lola's. When we got to the border panic hit us; they were checking all the cars going across the border. It occurred to me that I could be put in prison for taking a sixteen-year-old out of the country. We worked on our story for awhile until we had it down pat. The story was that we had just gotten married that day and were on our honeymoon. We had bought dime store rings and put them on. To this day I can't believe the guard bought our yarn. We drove on to Ensanada and waited for the city hall to open. When the Civil Register got to work we go strolling in and he performs the ceremony.”
“For some reason, I know not why, we decided that we would have to keep the marriage a secret until I got my next raise at Von's. That was a very hard time for both of us and it only lasted for four weeks. Your grandmother Lance found our marriage license under your mother’s bed. I was at work when your mother and Aunt Helen came into the store, your mother was in a black outfit and I asked her who died, she said ME.”
“We then went to see my parents and boy were they surprised. To keep our families happy we were married a second time on September 28th, 1959. Also we were told that our parents could annul the marriage. I don't really feel that either sets of grandparents were overjoyed with our marriage, sometimes the air was so thick it could be cut.”
“We eventually moved to Upland where your mother gave me the chance to hear about the Church. From the very first I knew that it was the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. Through the years I have had my problems, like many others, living all the things I believe. That has never in any way affected my Testimony. I do know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God…”
“In my life there are a half dozen or so days that mean the most to me. The day you were born is one of those. I can't imagine any man being happier. The most memorable day of my life was March tenth, 1961 when your mother and I were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple and you were brought in and placed in our arms and sealed to us. It seemed impossible that this could ever end."
In 1987 I told my father I was working on my autobiography and asked him if he would write down for me things about his life before I was born and the preceding passage was an excerpt from that letter. My parents were married to each other three separate times. The first marriage occurred in Mexico, the second was a civil ceremony in California and the third marriage ceremony took place at the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles. On April 11, 1962, my sister Rebecca Lynn Morton was born. Everyone called her Becky except my Aunt Helen who called her R Lynn.
Then on September second, 1963 my brother Michael Henry Morton was born. September second is also my Grandmother Morton's birthday. After some research I found out that several other Aunts and Cousins in my family share September second as a birthday. My mother grew up with the fact that she was born a few days before my great Aunt Pat, who never did forgive my mother for not being born on her birthday. As if my mother had a choice in the matter. Therefore, I can only imagine that it must have been shocking for my Aunt Pearl when my brother was born on my Grandmother Morton's birthday. My family thought my brother being born on my grandmother's birthday was just a coincidence and an interesting topic of conversation. I always thought there was more to it than just mere coincidence, but more on that as time goes by.
You see, I was born into and raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons. That was until I began doing research for this book and sent a rough draft to the President of the church hoping he could help me in some way or another with my research. I won't get into the details at this point of the story but suffice it to say I was soon thereafter excommunicated from the church.
Getting excommunicated was not something I was prepared for. Now suddenly everything I have to say about the church can be perceived as coming out of the mouth of a disgruntled ex-member, just another unwanted obstacle in getting my story across. Moreover, what makes it even more difficult for me is that the most significant part of my story is inspired by and taken from a particular story in The Book of Mormon.
In order for me to tell my story I will need to talk about and explain many aspects of the Mormon religion. I will do my best to be fair and impartial. Almost everything about the Mormon religion is a leap of faith, as it is with almost every major religion in the world. The Book of Mormon was either manifested and sanctioned by the power of God or conjured up by the greatest fiction writer of the nineteenth century. When I use the word, God, and I will be using that word quite often, I am referring to my Heavenly Father, who I believe is the creator of every living creature on the face of the earth including mankind. He is the creator of all things that exist in this universe. I do not know his name but I understand that he is also known as Allah and Buddha and many more different names. I do not know if Allah and Buddha are equal God’s along with my Heavenly Father or if they are equal’s of Jesus Christ. I do not think that God is a woman because of the treatment of women throughout history but I do believe there is a prominent female force in the Universe. I understand that women have been given the miraculous gift of giving birth but for the most part women have historically been dismissed and disrespected in society, politics and religion. I think we were possibly created as genderless spirits in a spirit world before we came to Earth. I think in this spirit world we chose our looks and our families and we were all aware of our family trees. I think God had at least two eldest children named Jehovah and Lucifer who were either his first born or specifically chosen as exceptional from among all of his spirit children. I think there may have been other important spirits and they could have become people like Moses, Abraham and many other prophets and historical figures. I think that as we chose our families and began to organize our future plans for our earth life we began to argue and feud with each other about how things would be done. I think that because of the forceful, brutal and egotistical ideas of Lucifer, he was cast down to earth in spirit form, as a constant reminder of what he was missing by not being able to be human. I think that at least thousands or even millions of spirits were cast down to earth with Lucifer because they stood up to his ideas. I think there was still strife and conflict between the spirits left in the spirit world and we carried on that strife and conflict in the form of organized religion here on earth. I personally believe that God is pleased that so many of his children still think about him and pray to him every day no matter what language or religion those thoughts and prayers are coming from. I also believe that God is responsible for or least has a hand in orchestrating every horrible thing that happens in this world and also every wonderful thing as well. I believe God has a legitimate reason and explanation for everything no matter how grim or uplifting. I believe that someday all of the unborn spirits in the spirit world will have been born and then the next phase of our spiritual/Earthly life cycle will begin. I do not know what happens next. I am not stating facts but what I think and hope for. The book of Revelations in the Bible is supposed to include a time table of events leading up to the second coming of Jesus Christ but I have doubts about the accuracy and authenticity of the scriptures and how they were assembled.
I know that many different cultures, religions and races want to harm one another because we have such strong and deep-rooted emotions towards each other based on opposing scriptures and holy beliefs. I also know that there is an enormous amount of love and compassion in this world and God can hear our prayers whether we realize it or not. I believe that when those prayers become so loud, strong, passionate, and constant and deafening, God does respond in ways we may not recognize or acknowledge; I believe and hope that God will send his only begotten Son back to this earth for the Second Coming. I do not know if this will happen tomorrow or next week or even hundreds of years from now, but I believe and hope that it will happen. I do not know what will eventually happen to Lucifer and his followers and I do not know if I should even care. I trust that God knows best and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity of just being alive. I believe that the only begotten Son of God is Jehovah, also known as Jesus Christ. I do not know if other important spiritual leaders like Mohammed, Buddha or Krishna will have their own “Second Coming” as well or if Jesus Christ alone will be able to explain it all. I believe in God and I trust that someday he will deliver us from evil and harm forever for all mankind no matter what your race, religion or ethnicity may be.
I will say it now and I will say it again, these are just my opinions and I do not base my thoughts and ideas on any particular religion. Of course I was raised as a Mormon for most of my childhood. The Mormon religion is a Christian religion but has its own book of scriptures besides the Bible called the Book of Mormon. Christians, Jews and Muslims all share a common thread by believing in the basic stories told in the Old Testament. The Jewish religion believes they are the ancestors of Abraham through Isaac and the Islamic religion believes they are descended from Abraham through Ishmael. The rest is history. But since my ideas are based on Mormonism, I will now give you some background information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I can guarantee that the Mormon Church does not agree with my opinions but I will do my best to let you know where I am coming from.
The name of the religion pretty much says it all, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Bold, straightforward and confident.
Mormons believe it all started when Joseph Smith sought the Lord through fervent prayer. He was fifteen years old and confused about which religion to join and what faith he should believe in. While he was praying, two personages appeared before him. One was the Holy Father and the other, his beloved son, Jesus Christ. Jesus proceeded to tell Joseph Smith that he should not join any religion, that in time he would send other messengers to him who would instruct him on how to begin the restoration of the true church of Christ.
Then on the night of September 21, 1823 Joseph Smith had his next visitation. A white light appeared in his room and the personage of a man appeared before him. The personage told Joseph Smith that his name was Moroni, and that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God. Moroni told Joseph that God had a great work for him to do. There was a book written on gold plates buried nearby. The book contained the account of an ancient civilization that lived in the American continents hundreds and thousands of years ago. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants of the American continents. Also that there were two stones in silver bows that when fastened to a breastplate constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim. The purpose of this device was to translate the ancient language recorded on the gold plates.
In 1827 after several more visitations from Moroni, Joseph Smith went to where the gold plates were buried and retrieved them along with the Urim and Thummim. Through a series of Divine revelations and commandments, Joseph Smith became the Prophet of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. And the translated gold plates became The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon for the most part is the account of how a group of people fled the ancient Holy Lands and came to arrive in the American Continents thousands of years ago.
I will periodically provide more detailed information about The Book of Mormon and Mormonism, as it corresponds with my own story. To be perfectly honest and helpful it might be a good idea to actually read The Book of Mormon before you read my book and specifically The Book of Ether. It is not mandatory but it couldn't hurt. My intention in asking you to read The Book of Mormon is not to corrupt or even convert you, but allow you to be fully informed, so you can make an intelligent decision concerning many of the unusual things I will be talking about in this book.
One of the many things that distinguish The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the fact that they believe that through divine intervention and angelic visitation, Joseph Smith was authorized by the Lord to reestablish the original Church of Jesus Christ. This is the church or religion that Mormon’s believe was lost to the world at the time of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. They believe that the original Christian religions that sprung up after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ were done by the power of man and not by the power of God. Mormons believe that they have the true keys to the kingdom of God and because of this, they believe they are the one true religion on Earth. In the eyes of the Mormon religion, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Catholics, etc. will all have to be converted and baptized as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in order to be eligible to live for eternity surrounded by the glory of God. When Joseph Smith was fifteen years old, he prayed to God with such passion and unique innocence that Jesus Christ and our Heavenly father both appeared to him, not in a vision, but in person. Over the next several years he would be visited by ancient Prophets such as Moroni, from The Book of Mormon, John the Baptist, and the Apostles Peter, James and John from the New Testament.
John the Baptist ordained Joseph Smith with the Aaronic priesthood while Peter, James and John ordained him with the Melchizedek priesthood, a higher priesthood. And that is basically how the Mormon religion was born. Some of the church's policies over the years have been controversial including polygamy and the exclusion of people of African decent from receiving the priesthood. Both policies have been abolished in recent years. Polygamy because of political and legal reasons and in the late 1970’s the president of the Mormon Church believes he received a revelation from God that proclaimed all men eligible to receive the priesthood regardless of the color of their skin.
Mormons observe the Sabbath on Sundays. Although in this age of radio, television and computers, the proper way to observe the Sabbath is somewhat vague and hard to regulate and enforce. They also believe that we were created as spirits in Heaven and sent to Earth to receive a human body. After we die our spirits return to a spirit world where we wait until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to return to Earth where our spirits are reunited with our resurrected bodies. Ultimately we will be judged for our acts and deeds and based on that judgment we will be assigned to one of three kingdoms of God. The Telestial is the lowest kingdom, up a level to the Terrestrial and the highest kingdom of God is called Celestial, divine segregation so to speak. Within each kingdom are other levels. I personally find this confusing especially since I hope that ultimately segregation and distinctions of differences between humankind will be dissolved and abolished.
The church also has a policy called the Word of Wisdom, which is a plan for treating your body as a holy Temple. This includes not drinking alcohol or caffeine, not smoking, no recreational drug use, etc. They also believe sex outside of an ordained heterosexual marriage is a sin. End of discussion.
If we are indeed living in the last days, then I hope that I would be on the winning team. From everything we know about the last days from the Bible, it does not seem like it is going to be a lot of fun. What with all the blood and carnage I would imagine that the light at the end of the tunnel would appear very dim for many people. Although we are promised a happy ending in the scriptures, getting there will not be a very pleasant experience. Unfortunately, neither the Bible, The Book of Mormon or any other religious scriptures offer us any concrete, definitive answers or clues concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Most of the scriptures that supposedly talk about the Second Coming and the last days are so cryptic and full of abstract imagery that no one can be expected to believe or understand any of their interpretations even though many have tried. Apparently, God will reward us with the answers as he sees fit in his own due time.
The possibility of being involved in some way with The Second Coming of Jesus Christ became a goal in my life. It gave me a reason to be alive, a purpose for life. When I was a child, whenever I was asked what my three goals in life were, I would always say, "I only have two, to be an actor and live to see the Second Coming." Even though there are billions of Christians throughout the world who believe in Jesus Christ and his second coming, there are also billions more who do not. Although Christians and Jews share an interest in the Old Testament, the Jewish religion does not recognize Jesus Christ as being the Son of God. And of course, the Buddhists, Hindus and other religions throughout the world do not believe in the Bible and even have their own scriptures and their own Gods and Prophets.
With such a diversity of ideas and beliefs, finding the truth about life, God and other mysteries of existence can be very overwhelming and confusing. That is why most people do not think about it very much. That’s my job. Many people are content to be obedient and ignorant about God and his creations. I can’t be. It would be nice if we could live together in peace and harmony and respect each other’s religious beliefs but that can never happen in the world in which we live today. I would imagine that when Jesus Christ makes his Second Coming it might interfere with whatever the Buddhists or the Hindus have going on at the time. The point I am trying to make is that we can’t help but criticize and encroach on each other’s beliefs because it is in our nature. However, the more we share and explore each other’s religions and cultures, the more we can understand why it is important that we have such extreme and similar beliefs. They all can’t be the right religion, or could they?