Assumed Audience: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are curious about history, civilizations, and/or Zion.

Epistemic Status: Extremely confident in the priciples. The more general or high level things are, the more confident I am. I become less confident as things become more detailed.

Chapter 6: “All Power Is Given” 1

“Now,” said Eli, standing up, “let’s go round up a posse.”

Josiah followed and asked, “What does that mean?”

“You’ll see.”

Eli walked up to the first door in the area. It looked like a house, but it also looked like there was a separate door into a general store.

“Oh, yeah, why don’t you have separate zones in Zion?” Josiah asked, “I mean, it would be better to separate industry and commerce from residential stuff.”

Eli just stared at him. “Boy, you know nothing. I won’t answer that question now, but I will. Right now, we have a job to do.”

He walked into the general store and immediately found the proprietor. “Hello, I am Eli Bene, the chief judge.”

“Oh, hello,” said the man. “I’m Gamaliel Nomast.”

“Nice to meet you. But this is not the best of circumstances; I need a posse.”

Gamaliel stood up straight. “Right away.” He started to walk away.

“Wait, I have one more request: because you own the general store, you are probably known.”

“That’s right.”

“Can you go south to gather a posse while I go north?”


“Thank you. Please meet me in front of the research center. I only need you to gather three to five people.”

“Consider it done.” Gamaliel disappeared quickly, but he appeared behind them with a rifle before Eli and Josiah even left the store.

As they walked into the blasting sunlight, Josiah asked, “Why do so many people have guns?”

“Because we don’t have professional police,” Eli said. “Law enforcement is done by regular citizens. That’s why I need to gather a posse.”

“Why? That sounds dumb. Hire some people and train them to be professional.”

Eli raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been watching too much old media, haven’t you?”

“Old American movies are fun!”

Eli shook his head. “Let’s get the next person before I answer that question.”

The next house didn’t appear to have a business inside. Eli knocked, and a younger man answered the door.

“Hello, I am Eli Bene, the chief judge.”

“What do you want?” snapped the man.

“I need a posse. Can you grab your firearm and join me?”

“Absolutely not,” spat the man. “I’m working.” He slammed the door.

Eli knocked again, and the man swung the door open. “Go away!”

“You realize, sir, that not following a request from a judge for a posse is a crime, right?”

“Yeah, right.” The man slammed the door again.

Eli just strode away.

“Okay, two questions,” Josiah panted, jogging to keep up. “First, why are you just letting him talk to you like that, and two, why is it required to join the posse?”

“To answer your first, I’ll deal with that later. To answer your second, that’s how judges execute law enforcement.

“But why we do it that way is the important bit.”

Eli turned down another street. “Near the end of US history, police forces were not good; they were acting mostly as hired guns for people in power. So rather than paying people to do the job, we require everyone to do it, like jury duty and conscription.”

“Okay, I can understand jury duty, but conscription? That’s just stupid. Especially since it’s for so long.”

“Conscription is how we have trained enforcement without professional police forces,” Eli replied. “Because every man goes to training once a month and learns how to use his weapon, they are all skilled. And there is, of course, regular specific training like the training that old American police forces would get.

“So we do have a professional police force; they’re just not paid.”

Josiah snorted. “That’s still stupid.”


“Because if you don’t pay them, how can you be sure they’ll follow your orders?” he said. “I mean, as we were gathering the posse, I thought that you would finally show me how you exercise power! Getting people to do stuff for you is real power!

“But if you don’t pay the people, they won’t follow your orders. What kind of power is that?”

Eli chuckled. “You’ll see.”

* * *

Josiah started; everyone was moving inside the research center now. Eli had just explained everything, and they took him on his word!

‘How strange,’ he thought.

But everyone obediently trooped inside. Once in, several men relieved Samuel and James. One of them said to Samuel, “Oh, if you’re here, then that’s good enough for me.”

Josiah did not understand what he meant.

The other half of the posse went to the computer. And then Josiah heard Eli explaining the evidence.

After a time, those men replaced the others, who went to the computer, and Eli repeated the process.

Then Eli said loudly, “Is everyone satisfied?” There were murmurs of agreement. “Any objections?” Silence.

“Alright then, let’s take these two to the gates.”

* * *

On the train, there was plenty of time to talk, and Eli did not seem interested in directing his posse.

“Why aren’t you giving orders and why haven’t you given orders?” asked Josiah.

“Because I don’t need to.”


“The Prophet Joseph Smith said, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.’ Same idea.”

“That doesn’t explain anything.”

Eli sighed. “An American submarine skipper wrote a book called Turn the Ship Around! He described his experience taking command of the worst submarine in the US Pacific fleet and turning it into the best. Do you want to know what he did?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“He loosened the leash.”

“No way!” Josiah said. “That’s so dumb!”

“Only if you are leading brutes,” Eli responded. “If you’re leading intelligent people, why not trust them?”

“Because they’re not intelligent.”

“Everyone is intelligent, just in different ways,” Eli said. “Your father, for example, is really dumb at politics.”

“You can say that again,” Josiah mumbled.

“But he is incredibly intelligent about law.”

“Yeah, right.”

“He is! But even more than that, he is so genuine, and so honest, that despite his lack of political prowess, he has more political power than I do!”

“No shot!”

“He does. And this is what you don’t understand: power is not something you exercise; it is something you are given.”

Eli waved a hand at the posse. “You saw that these people did what I wanted, not because I paid them, but because they believed that doing what I asked was the best course of action.

“In other words, they gave me power; I did not exercise power.”

Josiah mulled this, and Eli seemed to notice the mind gears.

“Power,” he continued, “is for doing good. It is not for serving your own interests. That’s why Christ said that the greatest shall be a servant.

“Not only that, but at no time is power allowed to trample on agency; it must be within the bounds the Lord has set. For example, do I have power over your choice of profession?”


Eli pursed his lips. “No, I don’t. That is outside of my bounds. Nor do I have power over how Samuel raised you, other than what he has given me.

“Power is a stewardship that requires correct use, and that means staying in bounds. We’ll talk about stewardships later, but for now, suffice to say that I am accountable for how Zion runs, but I can only use my power to that end.”

“But you should be able to do anything! You’re the chief judge!”

“Power is not a tool, Josiah,” Eli said, “it is a responsibility. As has been said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’

“That includes knowledge, by the way; knowledge is power because it gives you more capacity to do and do well.

“And that brings us back to that submarine skipper,” Eli continued. “He could have clamped down, but that had been tried. Instead, he remembered one thing: the US submarine force was the most selective in the US Navy, with only the best and brightest. So he knew his crew was good.

“Thus, he decided to bring out the best in the crew by giving them room to use their intelligence. After all, they had been chosen for their intelligence.

“It worked. There were rough patches, sure, but overall, it worked. The crew responded well, and it got to the point where the skipper never had to give orders. Instead, he gave approval.”

“Let me pull up a quote,” Eli said, and opened his smartphone.

Frequently, I wouldn’t just say, “Very well.” There would be too many unanswered questions about the safety and appropriateness of the proposed event, so I found myself asking a bunch of questions.

One day I caught myself, and instead of asking the questions I had in mind, I asked the OOD what he thought I was thinking about his “I intend to submerge.”

“Well, Captain, I think you are wondering if it’s safe and appropriate to submerge.”

“Correct. So why don’t you just tell me why you think it is safe and appropriate to submerge. All I’ll need to say is ‘Very well.’”

L. David Marquet, Turn the Ship Around!

“And then he would!” Eli said, putting the smartphone away. “Officers would approach him saying, ‘Captain, I intend to submerge the ship. We are in water we own, water depth has been checked and is four hundred feet, all men are below, the ship is rigged for dive, and I’ve certified my watch team.’ And all he would say is, ‘Very well.’

“He goes further! He instituted practices to have people engage their brain instead of being passive, such as certifications instead of briefings and learning instead of training.

That is true power: leading intelligent people who do most of the work for you. True power is not giving orders; it is allowing people the freedom to use their intelligence so that you don’t have to.

“Who would you be more impressed by: a leader who is constantly barking orders, or a leader who sits quietly while everything gets done anyway?”

Josiah thought a moment. “Okay, sure. But I bet that I could take a bunch of brutes and conquer a bunch of smart people; the strongest always win.”

“Maybe so,” Eli replied, “but what could you do after you conquer? You could only conquer again.

“On the flip side, if you lead smart people, what could you do? You could go to the moon; you could build a supersonic jet liner; you could implement nuclear fission.

“Speaking of nuclear fission, have you studied World War II? The Japanese people were brainwashed into being brutes, but that nation unconditionally surrendered to a nation of warriors, scientists, and workers. And it was done with a bomb made by scientists and delivered in a complicated and daring mission.

“Brutes may conquer, but intelligent people can do more.”

Eli stretched. “If I may sound a little sacreligious, have you ever wondered why God wants to make us gods?”

“I don’t believe in your god.”

“Humor me.”

“Well, um, no,” Josiah hesitated.

“Who is more powerful: a god of brutes, or a god of gods?” Eli asked. “God’s power and glory increase as more of His children become gods.

“So if you are a leader of men, you want to lead men, not savages. You want to lead, not coerce. And you want to teach so that you exercise power without effort.

That is real power.”

Eli waved a hand at Samuel, whose piercing eyes were carefully watching everything. “Take your father. He has that real power.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Earlier, I was explaining to Samuel why I use public funds for the Fusion Research Center, correct?”

Josiah folded his arms. “I did think it was weak of you to do so.”

“Sure, whatever,” Eli said. “You can think whatever you want to think. Nevertheless, if I fail to convince Samuel of the utility of that research, he could say one sentence against it, and all of Zion would clamor for it to be shut down.

“Now, I admit that the FRC is kind of my personal project; I wanted to be a nuclear engineer when I was younger. So if your dad did that, I would be upset.”

“So why would you even let him speak?!”

Eli shook his head. “We’ve been over this; he has that right.

“But no matter; trust me, he could shut it down. Do you know why?”

“I have no clue why that dumb geezer would be able to exercise any power.”

“Because people trust him. And they trust him because they know he would give up everything for Zion.

“You heard him say that he was tortured for Zion, right?”

Josiah nodded.

“He was. He was very vocal against the antichrist and preached about what Zion could be, and the antichrist had him imprisoned and tortured. He was only rescued when the Ten Tribes came and cast the antichrist out of the Americas.

“Not only that, but his arrest was a good distraction for the rest of us to escape.

“Your father is the reason Zion exists, and people know that. In a way, he saved them, and they know that. They would follow him in everything, and they gave him power through their complete trust in him.

“So all he needs to do is express his opinion that something is not right, and people would go so far as to overthrow me if that was required.

“Thus, your father has greater power than I; in fact, my power partially comes from the fact that if I please Samuel, the rest of Zion will be pleased as well.

“Do not underestimate your father.”

“Whatever. I still don’t believe power is given,” Josiah argued.

“Well, if you’ve read history at all, you would know that when the leaders of the United States wanted to do something, they would somehow make it the will of the people. Most of the time, this had to do with going to war.

“For World War I, there was the Zimmerman Telegram and the Lusitania. For World War II, there was Pearl Harbor. For Vietnam, there was the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

“Lesser known are some straight-up false flag incidents or proposals like Operation Northwoods.

“If power is not given, then why did the leaders of the United States spend so much effort trying to manufacture consent to change public opinion, or wait for it to change by itself?”

Josiah had no answer. “Well, um, all history is a lie.”

Eli sighed.