Please see the disclaimer.

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 8: “The Laws of God” 1

Josiah thought he was early, but Eli was already working when he made it to the Judgment Hall.

“‘Sup.”

Eli turned a furious eye. “Sit down and shut your mouth.”

Josiah was surprised enough to obey right away.

Eli snarled, “The world does not revolve around you, so notice what others are doing. And for goodness sake, do not interrupt court!”

He turned back to the people in front of him. “I apologize. Please continue.”

One man started talking, and Josiah noticed that he was part of a large group on one side of the Hall. The other side had just two men.

“We have pictures of the pollution,” said the man.

“Please bring them forward,” Eli requested, and the man did.

Eli looked at the photographs for an excruciating moment. Then he turned to one of the other two men. “Do you dispute the veracity of these photographs?”

The other one of the two men answered, “Your Honor, he does not.”

Eli’s gaze soured sharply, and he growled, “Did I ask you to speak, or did I ask Mr. Jordan?”

“Uh, Mr. Jordan, Your Honor.”

“So in what capacity did you think that you could speak?”

“Uh, I’m here to represent him.”

Eli’s face darkened further. “Like a lawyer?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“You do realize that we don’t have lawyers, correct?”

The second man shifted on his feet. “Uh, yes, Your Honor, but he asked me to do this because I’m more acquainted with the Law than he is.”

“Then if you are acquainted with the Law, you surely know that every man must represent himself, correct?”

“Uh, yes, Your Honor, but I’m here to help him navigate the technicalities…”

The man’s voice trailed off as Eli slowly stood with some visible anger. “You seriously think that focusing on the technicalities of the Law is what I do?”

“Eli,” Samuel said, “dial back the anger. Even if he is an oaf.”

Eli stopped, took a breath, and said, “Yes, sorry, Samuel.”

He turned again to the “lawyer” and said, “I do not deal with technicalities. I deal with justice. Your friend is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, and I will not bilk him. That’s not what I do.

“If there are people in front of me that make innocent mistakes with the Law, I help them. Samuel will help them.

“So you, sir, step aside. I’ll deal with you later.”

The second man sat back down and shrank.

“Now, Mr. Jordan, do you dispute the veracity of these photographs?”

The first man stood, shaking. “Uh, yes, I do, Your Honor.”

“Then if we were all to take a trip to your plant, would I see something different?”

“Oh, uh…” The man trailed off, and his friend whispered to him. “Of course.”

“Then let’s go,” Eli said, standing again. “However, you do realize that if we get there, and these photographs are correct, you will be charged with lying as well.”

“Uh, well, uh, then the photographs are correct.”

Eli sat back down. “Very well. Now,” and he leaned forward, “it could be that there are factors in your decision to pollute, other than negligence and laziness. This is your chance to tell me what those factors are.

“Of course, I will have to investigate those factors, so I will know if you’re lying.

“So do you have anything to tell me?”

The man’s friend whispered to him. He shook his head dejectedly. “No, Your Honor.”

“Then I hereby require you to change your processes to prevent pollution and to clean up the pollution that already exists. If you do not, you will be sentenced to death or banishment.”

Eli turned to the other group of men. “Is this acceptable?”

They all nodded, and Eli said, “So be it.”

Both groups of men simply left, and Eli turned to Josiah. “How dare you walk in here and interrupt court!”

Josiah flinched and cowered under Eli’s scrutiny, but finally, Eli relaxed and said, “Now you can ask your questions.”

Josiah wrung his hands. “Um…uh, first, why can’t people have lawyers?”

“Because having lawyers favors people who are rich,” Eli said. “If only one side can afford a lawyer, as happens all the time, they would be put at a huge advantage.

“This would be disastrous over time, and even with lawyers banned, rich people can have an advantage because they have more free time to study the Law.

“So judges are supposed to help people as they make mistakes. Their job is to find the truth, and only the truth.”

“Wait,” Josiah, “that’s it?”

“Yes, the truth is all that matters in judgment.”

“But that seems too black and white,” Josiah insisted. “What about nuance?”

Eli smiled. “Nuance only exists in theory. In actual cases, everything is black and white, even if both parties have wronged each other. Judges find the wrongs and correct them.

“Yes, this sometimes means that both parties have to compensate each other.

“But whatever the case, judges find the black and white truth for that case, and then they act accordingly.

“That’s why Zion has judges; they decide individual cases and never pass collective judgment.

“Historically, the ‘social justice’ trend in the last years of the United States shows the folly of collective judgment. People were condemned for being too white, or too conservative, or too leftist, or too whatever.

“That collective judgment is always unjust to someone. Thus, judges tease apart the cases and decide them individually.”

Josiah thought for a moment. “But say, for example, that someone does not know the Law. Would it be just to sentence them for breaking the Law?”

“No one is allowed to stay in Zion that does not know the law,” Eli said. “Unlike most nations in history, people who want to be citizens of Zion must study the Law and take an oath to follow it.”

“But what about children that grow up in Zion?”

“Are you really that ignorant?” Eli asked. He turned to Samuel. “If anyone else was his father, I might think that man had not tried to teach him. But since it is you, I know that he just didn’t listen.”

“Unfortunately,” Samuel intoned.

Eli faced Josiah again. “Every child is required to learn the Law and then take the oath on reaching manhood.

“Yes, you should have taken it already.”

“Well, I won’t.”

“We shall see. Any other questions?”

Josiah sat for a second and perked up. “Oh! Why did you convict that guy when there is no law against polluting?”

“Because that was what justice requires.”

“But there is nothing in the Law about not polluting!” Josiah disputed.

Eli replied, “No, but there doesn’t have to be. The Law only requires justice.”

“Yikes!” Josiah said. “That’s very vague! How can that even be implemented?”

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

“Old American legal dramas are fun!”

“Yet another sign you think you’re more clever than others.” Eli sighed.

“Over the course of the history of the United States,” he said, “law upon law was added until it was impossible to follow them all. It was even said that every citizen unknowingly committed three felonies a day.

“If all that is required is justice, then it is harder to say that a man broke the Law unless there is some actual wrong committed against someone else.

“In fact, the Law requires that someone else to present their case to a judge; otherwise, nothing is done because it is assumed that no harm was done.

“But judges always have to focus on actual justice for actual harm against actual people.”

Josiah demurred. “The Law in the Old Testament only covers things like damage from cattle, not pollution.”

“The examples in the Old Testament are just that: examples,” Eli replied. “The real Law is justice. So says Deuteronomy:

If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.

Deuteronomy 25:1

“It also says

Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20

“Thus the entirety of the Law is justice.”