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  1. 12 points
    It will be next year that my wife and I will have been married for twenty years. Hopefully our marriage sealing will be sealed by the Holy Spirit in the next life if we continue faithful to life eternal. We also now have just reached one full gross year of income saved for in our emergency fund and retirement combined. Please share any milestones or goals reached if you wish.
  2. 11 points

    Liberals in the Church

    I'm probably going to end up kicking up a hornet's nest here, and starting a fight I don't have the will power to finish. But this is an issue that strikes very close to home. Let's get some of the basics out up front. I am what pretty much everyone would consider a "liberal in the Church." I vote liberal politically, and a number of my personal beliefs with respect to our religion fall outside of the orthodox views. I have multiple friends that share many of these views that have left the Church. I also have multiple friends who share my views that have remained in the Church. The Personal Experiences (skip if you don't want to read the novel) The most succinct thing I can say about being a liberal in the Church is that the risk of social ostracism is very high. And the vast majority of my friends who have left the Church have done so more because of the social ostracism than because of a failing testimony. Perhaps the most keen example of this is a friend of mine who joined the Church as an adult convert while attending MIT. I name-drop the school primarily to give a perspective of this being a person who was intelligent, motivated, and capable. It's important to note that as an adult convert, many of her political opinions and preferences were fairly established before she joined the Church. She met and married her husband while in college, and they went to Utah for his medical residency. While in Utah, she was on the receiving end of a lot of subtle and some not-so-subtle reminders of "the role of women at home." Some people even outright asked her what was the point in her getting her Master's degree. She wasn't going to use it once she had kids anyway (spoiler, she wasn't able to have kids, not that it should matter). In fairness, I suspect the people perpetuating this nonsense were the minority, but it was enough to make participation at church uncomfortable. After about 15 years and a few moves, they ended up settling in New England. Her Relief Society presidency took it upon themselves to cure her of all of her liberal political beliefs. Their approach: asking her to teach lessons on "the evils of abortion," and "the evils of same sex marriage." They were overt in their intentions that if she would just prepare a lesson on the subject, she would start to see things the Correct Way (TM). She eventually stopped going to church because she was tired of being a target and a pet project. So let me make this clear: It is a real challenge to attend Church and be spiritually fed when you're wondering when the next attack is going to come. From my own experience, I have been exceptionally lucky. Coming off of a mission and entering college, I was about as straight laced and orthodox as a person can be. Believe it or not, at the time, I would have been considered a biblical literalist. My course of studies led me to start questioning some of the assumptions behind my beliefs. I had incredibly supportive family and bishops that encouraged me to explore and study these questions. They discussed issues with me. And while they were free with their own opinions--that often differed from the ones I was developing--they never told me that I couldn't disagree with them. I was also very lucky to be called into semi-prominent positions of service early on. But that can be a crap shoot for liberal Mormons. In the first ward I attended after finishing college, there was no scout troop. I chose to volunteer with a community based troop because I wanted to do something valuable with all the free time I had come into (I had been studying 12-14 hours a day for months leading up to my thesis defense). About two months later, the bishop of that ward asked me to comment on a plan he was devising to have the young men of three wards in the area meet once a month as a troop, once a month as patrols (in separate buildings) and then the other two weeks would be non-scout oriented activities. I suspect he was trying to ease into calling me to help run the program. Instead, I excoriated his idea, and said if he was going to run a scout troop, he should commit to it. But running half a program wasn't going to be of any benefit to anyone. He hardly ever spoke to me after that (but that vision of a scout program never developed). A few months later, he was released. The new bishop chose to retain the same two counselors who had been privy to my review of the scout troop idea. Apparently, those two had more appreciation for my willingness to offer criticism and honest feedback, and soon after I was called to be the ward clerk. And honestly, that calling as clerk is probably the reason I have been able to remain comfortable in the Church and be as liberal as I am. Because whatever bizzarro, unorthodox, or out-of-the-mainstream ideas I was spitting on any given day, I always had implicit status of "worthy" because I was in that inner leadership circle. I missed church about once a month to go lead scout activities. Any chance I could get to Church, I would, but it usually meant I showed up in grungy -- sometimes smelly -- camping clothes. And while I knew there were people that questioned whether I was keeping the Sabbath holy, no one ever questioned the strength of my testimony or worthiness because I held a semi-prominent position. That's an absurd conclusion, and I won't defend it. But nonetheless, I was challenged less for my unorthodox beliefs because of the leadership position I held. That changed soon after I was released as the clerk in that ward. The sequence of events occurred as such. First, I asked to be released so that my spouse could continue to serve as Young Women president after our second child was born. We just couldn't handle both being on the ward council at the time. A few months later, Brother X moved into the ward. And then a few months later, Brother X became Bishop X. Bishop X had no history with me, and was a very different kind of bishop than the one I had clerked for. At one point, I made a statement about gender discrepant language in the temple ceremonies, trying to illustrate and explain to people why that bothers some people in the Church. I got called in to meet with the bishop where he threatened to take my temple recommend away for violating my covenants to not reveal what happens in the temple. I had to argue with him that nothing I had said violated any sort of covenant, and if he'd be more comfortable understanding why I believed that, perhaps we should go to the temple and have a discussion about it in a setting that he was comfortable discussing it. He didn't accept the invitation. He also didn't pull my temple recommend, but I was very clearly on the outs with him. For the rest of the time he was bishop, Church was hard, because there were regular instances where my commitment to my faith was challenged because of the things I believed. It wasn't just me, either. Most of the liberal leaning members, especially women, would describe discomfort with Church activities because there were consistent swipes at the illegitimacy of liberal beliefs. One of the more amusing stories from that time frame was during the run up to the 2012 election. The ward ran a listserv for members to e-mail play date invitations, or list furniture they were selling/throwing out. One day, an e-mail came across asking for support for a Romney campaign something-or-other. I sent an e-mail to the bishopric expressing my discomfort with political activities taking place over a listserv for the ward. The response was pretty dismissive. They didn't see any problem with it. So I promptly sent an e-mail out over the listserv asking if anyone was interested in purchasing a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker. I'd place the order and pay the shipping, and so anyone that wanted one just needed to pay for the sticker. Almost immediately, a notice was put out that political discussions were not appropriate on the listserv. Antagonizing the bishop like that probably didn't help my cause, but it was totally worth it. Blessedly, Bishop X wasn't bishop very long. 18 months and then took a job overseas. Although I didn't hold any prominent callings under the new bishop, he was a lot more accepting of divergent viewpoints himself, and it started to be much more comfortable to be at church again. When I moved to my current ward, a little more than five years ago, I was almost immediately called to be a clerk. I've also taught Gospel Principles and Institute in that time. And again, being in that semi-prominent position has come with the side benefit that very few people question my commitment to my faith, regardless of how crazy any of the things I say are. Again, I've been blessed with great bishops (I'm on my third in this ward) and a good stake president. I've had at least two sets of missionaries complain about some of the things I've taught in Institute*. The bishops and stake president have always been backed me up and said that me offering challenging questions or alternate interpretations isn't a problem if I'm trying to genuinely help the students explore their faith and develop a familiarity with receiving their own revelation. But here's that catch. While it has been great the past five years, I get really anxious when a new bishop is being called. Even though I've had bishops that are supportive, I can name a few men in the ward that, if they were to become bishop, would probably make church very uncomfortable for me. Being an election year, we're currently dealing with heightened political feelings, and there have been some instances of members saying "you can't be a member in good standing and support abortion." When you get those kinds of statements coming from people in leadership positions. And here's the thing: it's completely unnecessary. * every Institute class I taught started with a disclaimer that I am very much exploring the content, and ideas I spout off on any given night may or may not be good ideas. And anything that I believe today may be something I don't believe five years from now. I've always tried to encourage the ability to safely explore and learn over dictating what I perceive to be true. For the most, it seems to have worked, as my students never seemed to be uncomfortable saying "I disagree with you." I Guess This is My Thesis (yeah yeah, it should be near the top) The Atonement of Jesus Christ is apolitical (probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). The teachings of the Church should likewise be apolitical. Repent of your sins and come unto Christ. There is extremely wide latitude for political and social disagreement within that spectrum. There is extremely wise latitude for disagreement in how we interpret scripture and the guidance from our prophets. I do not consider homogeneity and conformity of thought a virtue in the Church (also probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). Unity and disagreement are not mutually exclusive. And so I try (and sometimes fail) to respect opinions and ideas from members that I disagree with. More often than not, I want them to feel comfortable saying what the believe, and if possible, why they believe it. I have things to learn from them, and we are a better community when we understand and accept each other, regardless of the things we disagree or agree on. Regarding Liberals Attempting to Change the Church I believe firmly that there is room for questioning some of the things we purport to believe. I even more firmly believe that there is room to question some of our practices. But I also believe that those questions should follow a process of study, discussion, and prayer. I would be considered a liberal mormon, because I support the idea of allowing women to hold priesthood. But I don't support that idea because "EQUALITY." I honestly just can't see any reason they don't other than "because we never have." I know there are other arguments, but I don't find them compelling (and I'm not willing to discuss it in this thread**). Importantly though, I have reached this position after years of careful consideration. Changes to the church should not be made simply to fit the popular social issues of the time. So even as a liberal mormon, I hold that conservative approach. But that doesn't mean the Church can't or shouldn't change. It can and it should. And it will. Sometimes in ways that I favor, and sometimes in ways that I don't. ** I've spent too much time on this subject as it is, and if I don't get two weeks of work done before the end of next week, I won't be able to go to Scout Camp. Regarding Conservatives Attempting to Change the Church This is one that we should be wary of as well. As I mentioned before, taking stances like "No one can be a member in good standing and support abortion" is an attempt to change the Church into a homogeneous thought pool. The message that comes across is "Repent or get out." Those kinds of attitudes need to be rooted out in the Church. It's Genuinely Harder to Be Liberal in the Church That it is to be Conservative I'm just going to state this as fact. In the 20th century, Mormon culture took a hard conservative turn that intermingled with political conservatism. As political tensions increase, the fact that there are more conservatives in the Church will inherently make it more hostile to liberals in the Church. As far as doctrinal conservatism vs doctrinal liberalism, conservatives will typically be more hostile to liberals than liberals will be to conservatives. I'm excluding from this discussion elitist jerks that are convinced that if you don't agree with them, then you're a blithering idiot. But we have to understand that doctrinal liberalism is an existential threat to doctrinal conservatism. For example, if you are a biblical literalist, evolution is a direct route to atheism. On the other hand, doctrinal conservatism is merely an annoyance to doctrinal liberalism. Those facing an existential threat will always react more aggressively. As Liberals Gain More Influence in the Church, They Must Wield Their Influence Responsibly And this is hard to do. We often want to call into leadership people who agree with us, or who are like minded. But we cannot afford to do that. It would be a tragedy of incomprehensible magnitude for liberals to wield their influence to turn ostracism onto conservatives in the way we have felt it. Church is a place to be uplifted. And I struggle with this one. A lot. There are an unspecified number of individuals in my ward that are very conservative. And when we consider leadership openings, I regularly find myself advocating against calling them. I've often had to take several days to try and sort out if my advocacy is legitimate or born out of my own biases. I've been lucky so far in that any time one of these individuals has come up as a possibility, the bishopric is generally unanimous in choosing not to call them. But I still feel great discomfort at the possibility that I may be excluding people in the way that I felt excluded in times past. I've definitely lost track of where I was going with all of this. But let me just close by saying that we need to be very careful pitting "liberal" vs. "conservative." We cannot afford to allow ourselves to become opponents. We are on the same team and need to learn to work as a team.
  3. 11 points
    This topic can be sensitive, and I was tempted to place in the Christian beliefs forum. However, my sense is that the spiritual struggle that politics sometimes generates affects us all. Here's the story--made vague on purpose. A man seminary-educated (Protestant graduate theology school) in the 1970s becomes ordained in his mainline denomination and pastors a single church for nearly 30 years. As he sees his denomination embrace gay marriage, ordain practicing homosexuals, and now fully embrace transgenderism, he comes to the soul-wrenching decision to leave his denomination--including guiding his church out. He was able to join another denomination, under the same larger umbrella, and today says his former denomination cannot be merely labed liberal--it has become radical, in his view. I read his article and, taken at face value, I agree. In the 1990s, when I was at my much-more-Bible-based denominational seminary I remember classmates saying with a bit of bravado that they were thankful that we would never affirm anti-biblical sexuality. Today we remain nowhere near violating those standards. However, there are some frightfully strong rumblings among our youngest clergy. A few pastors have left us, because they do want to embrace today's cultural norms. In the greater Evangelical world there are several thinkers suggesting a huge divide is coming over support/opposition to POTUS. Apparently many younger believers find it hypocritical and even evil that their elders would turn a blind eye to the shortcomings in order to gain temporary protection and support. "Do we trust God or Caesar?" they ask. If the church is led by prophets, and those prophets remain true, then a few may leave the church, whether to the left or the right. If boundary-protectors force the church to the right, outside of God's directing, then a good number will leave for the left. Those who do so will be younger. On the other hand, if the cultural-accommodaters get ahead of God's directions, many elders may leave in dismay. After some initial growth by excited young people, such a movement would go the way of many in-tune denominations--gradual implosion. I'm an outsider. However, if my counsel is worth anything, I'd urge members to pray for their leaders--especially those they believe to be anointed by God to be prophets. In the mean time, I am praying for my leaders to keep our denomination faithful to God and his Word.
  4. 10 points
    One of my callings is the ward music chair. That means that I pick the hymns each week. This has been on hiatus due to the quarantine. But since Sacrament Service is starting up again, I just experienced something wonderful. The topic for the week was "The Rest of the Lord". So, I went through a very methodical/scholarly/intellectual method of picking the hymns. I checked them against my past log of hymn to ensure that we did not have too frequent repetition of any hymns. I sent them in. But immediately after I sent them in, I was caught up in thought regarding those hymns, then other hymns came to my mind. It was a whirlwind of thought with momentary pauses on certain words and phrases. Finally, the words of the hymn "How Great Thou Art" came to my mind. I couldn't stop thinking about that phrase. I thought it fits the weekly topic by that phrase alone. But most of the time, that song was about how inspired one feels when seeing the workmanship of the Lord's hands. I'm inspired by my watermelons :). But I realized that my mind was being focused for me. I was supposed to change the closing hymn to How Great Thou Art. So, I sent a revised email to the ward clerk. Today, there was a talk that was based on the blog post on the Church website. She explained the peace she feels from seeing the handiwork of the Lord. Here's an excerpt. I don't know if anyone else in the ward noticed the inspiration involved here. But I sure did. The rest of the Lord is to be found all around. We just need to see it.
  5. 9 points

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    A parent doesn't have to teach his kids history. A parent NEEDS TO TEACH his kids good manners and right conduct which includes self-discipline, repentance, forgiveness, humility and charity among other Godly virtues. A parent doesn't need to know history himself. A child will learn history out of curiosity. "Nobody taught me this" - is a victimhood mentality. The attitude that it is somebody else's fault that I didn't know X - that is an indication of a lack of virtue. So yes, a parent can successfully parent even when such parent is illiterate if the parent successfully instills Godly virtues in his children, especially the virtue of humility - the acknowledgment that I don't know everything and, therefore, I can learn something from everybody else, living or dead, abolitionist or slave trader.
  6. 9 points

    Carb's Take on Racism

    Based on recent current events and many comments regarding the situation, I'm going to make a statement on racism. It is just my personal observation. It is based on experiences of hundreds of Asian immigrants I've known, across half a dozen states, and just as many foreign countries, over the course of 50 years. But it is just a personal observation. Racism has always been around. It is not unique to the US. In fact, the US is probably among the most racially tolerant nations on earth. Not perfect, obviously, especially considering recent events. But if you honestly believe we're the worst -- or even near the same category as the worst -- you haven't been to other nations where it is literally a problem worth killing for. I have felt it in my life. And I also know it has gotten a lot better over the many years of my life. America is getting better. Other nations aren't. Racism is much worse in less developed countries. In this century (already 20 years old) racism in the US is at least commonly acknowledged as being stupid if not worse. Other nations consider it normal. They say things like, well sure, they're (insert race here). So of course they're (insert racial stereotype or characteristic here). DUH!! And no one calls them out on it. It's the expectation. Mexican kids in school particularly gave me troubles because I was a small kid. As you all know, I usually never back down from a fight--even if I have no hope of winning. I just don't give up that easily. Sometimes I got beat up enough that I had to take a break from standing up for myself. But I eventually did. And quite often, I'd win the fights -- even when they were twice my size. The point being that they picked these fights because I was small -- and because I was a different race than they were. I had Mexican friends who were just as small. But they never got picked on. And they made it very clear to shout racist epithets to ensure I understood their motives. The crazy part was that some of the guys in those groups never participated in the fights. But they did at least participate in part of the taunting and encouraging. When they were by themselves, they behaved like my friends. And I guess I still don't understand that mindset. By the time I got into high school, people behaved better. There were still stereotypes There were still ethnic jokes Not as many epithets. In fact, the last one I heard was in my freshman year at BYU. So, no the Church is not immune. No more fist fights I think I once related the stories of people setting me up with a girl (when I was single, of course) because she was the only Asian girl they knew. And then I ended up marrying a white girl. When I got passed over for picking teams, I understood it was because I was small, not because of my race. One would be a fool to pick me for their basketball team. If you go to Korea or Japan, you'll find two highly developed nations who are also highly racist. But they're equal opportunity haters. They hate anyone who is not their own race (and by race I mean Korean or Japanese respectively). Koreans generally hate Americans -- especially white Americans. They also hate Japanese and Chinese. They really look down on everyone. Japanese are so racist that even if you're speaking perfect Japanese to them, they refuse to speak Japanese back because that would be acknowledging that you're human. They also hate Koreans and Chinese just as much. Sure, businessmen and diplomats know not to bite the hand that feeds them. And shop owners know to greet Americans with a smile and nice tones. But as soon as they're gone, they give out audible sighs and grunts. By contrast, all the Asian immigrants I knew used to just accept America and try to blend in. All the hatred and racism disappears from them. They even forced their children to stop speaking the language of their homeland and learn to be fluent in English. Many of the parents opened up businesses and simply smiled. They did not let out the sighs and grunts. They just ran their businesses and sent their kids to school to secure a better life for them. Asians were told the following: Learn to speak English fluently. Get proper education and training in a field that pays well. If you have these two things, you'll figure out all the rest. It is your drive and your abilities that will get you ahead. Now compare that to Blacks, and Hispanics. What are they taught? If you speak like them, you're a sellout. If you get good grades in school you're a sellout. You can't get ahead because of "da man". Government will figure it all out and save us. How have these philosophies been working? Well, we can see it in the lives of people who do the opposite of the above. Black people who value education, language, and hard work get ahead. Asians who don't, fall into poverty. Muslims (BTW, they don't easily fall into either category across their various national origins) also succeed and fail by these formulae. The startling pattern I've seen is that among the recent Asian immigrants for the past 15 years or so, Asians are buying into the "sellout" philosophy. And more of them are falling into poverty. It will a take another 15 or 20 years for those effects to show up in statistics. But I've seen it happening. Luckily, the successful Asians of previous generations are still valuing these things and teaching them to their children. But this is the "different kind of racism" I experience as an Asian adult.
  7. 8 points

    Book of Mormon white supremacy??

    When I was teaching Institue, I came across a theory that Mormon was a Lamanite. He identifies as a "descendant of Nephi" in his own writing, but by 300 AD, it wouldn't be unreasonable to have both Lamanite and Nephite heritage. Mormon also features the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, a group of Lamanite converts, very heavily in his abridgement. He also features the people of Limhi, who desired to live among he Nephites, in his abridgement. Whether it is factually correct or not, I don't know. But it was in intriguing thought. And so, when my ward's young men decided to hold a Book of Mormon marathon (they attempted to read the entirety of the Book of Mormon in 24 hours), I decided to participate and that I would try to read and interpret the text from the perspective of Mormon being a Lamanite. I observed something in the process, and will try to explain and quantify it here. In this particular reading, one word started to stand out to me. That word was 'filthy' (and its variants) There are 34 occurrences of 'filth' in the Book of Mormon (via a text search at http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/17/pg17.txt). These can be categorized into 30 uses (some phrases use the term twice, such as in 'he who filthy shall be filthy still' 10 uses by Nephi 1 use by Isaiah 7 uses by Jacob 3 uses by Alma 2 uses by Mormon quoting/paraphrasing Limhi 1 use by Mormon 2 uses by Moroni In six uses, filthy is used to describe the Lamanites. Once by Nephi, three times by Jacob, once by Enos, and once by Mormon The six uses to describe the Lamanites are what interest me the most. I'm going to go ahead and post all of those verses here: From the context of all of these, it's reasonable to conclude that 'filthy' was a pretty heavy hitting term. Perhaps even close to what we might consider a slur. In the context of Nephi's culture (specifically, cultural Jew from Jerusalem), the word 'filthy' could probably be replaced with 'unclean.' Which was also pretty serious. (See also Alma 32:3 for a pejorative use of 'filthy') Now, let's also consider that there is a certain likelihood that the Lamanites joined forces with other indigenous peoples in the area. These people wouldn't have been Israelites, and so would have been seen as outsiders to the Nephites. Israel wasn't exactly what we would call a tolerant society, so it shouldn't surprise us if there was a touch of racism directed toward those outsiders. As a parallel, consider the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans--the Samaritans were cultural Jews who intermingled their religion with some of the pagan religions in the area, and they were heavily despised by the 'pure' Jews for it. Most of the references don't make an explicit tie to skin color. Nephi and Mormon both use the term 'dark', which may have reference to skin color. In all honesty, it probably does. It's the references by Enos and Jacob that are really informative though. Enos gives a description of the Lamanites that is broad and perhaps promotes a stereotype of the Lamanites. It's a caricature, and I'm inclined to take it with a grain of salt. In fairness, Nephi was barely old enough to be Enos' grandfather, so the wounds and intercultural strifes between the Nephites and the Lamanites at this point in time are pretty raw still. If you add in unfamiliar cultures from any of the indigenous peoples the Lamanites may have joined, the stereotyping hypothesis becomes a little more plausible. Jacob is the really interesting speaker in all of this, though. He actually goes to great length to separate 'filthiness' from 'skin'. This is important--in one respect, this strengthens the hypothesis that 'filthy' was a type of slur. More importantly, Jacob makes it explicit that 'filthiness' is a spiritual condition, and goes so far as to state that Nephites are the filthier race because their wickedness is greater than that of the Lamanites. In other words, Jacob explicitly rejects the link between skin color and supremacy. Ultimately, the conclusion I've come to at this phase of my study is that there did exist a certain amount of racism and classism among the Nephites against the Lamanites. Mormon himself seemed to harbor some of these biases. In 3 Nephi 2:15-16, he describes converted Lamanites as having their skin become "white like unto the Nephites" and that their sons and daughters became "exceedingly fair." Given Mormon's general reticence to use 'filthy' to describe anything other than a spiritual condition, I'm inclined to believe that he is describing their physical attractiveness. In other words, the Nephite culture and those of Mormon's culture seem to have determined lighter skin to be the standard of beauty. The question that follows that conclusion is "how could prophets of God harbor those biases?" Well, they were still human, and still suffered from the imperfections of man. Moroni explicitly states this. And so if we read the right bits and pieces, it isn't difficult to paint a picture for "white supremacy in the Book of Mormon." However, if you read the broader teachings contained in that scripture, it becomes clear that filthiness--as used by the Book of Mormon authors--is strictly a spiritual condition that is not tied to skin color. Jacob makes that point inarguable. I recommend we follow Moroni's plea. Let us learn to be more wise than they have been and reject racial supremacy. Instead, let's recognize the beautiful truths of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and all other scripture that teach that all men are children of God and that he desires all of them to return to his presence.
  8. 8 points
    I have had a very recent struggle with this same issue, albeit from the other side of the spectrum. I had advised our bishopric to seek input from the general ward membership on what we could do to help each of them feel comfortable returning to church. Mixed in with the vast majority of thoughtful responses were a few "There's nothing you can do that will make me feel comfortable right now." and a few "people just need to stop being scared and take things back to normal." As you might expect, the "just stop being scared" comments triggered my thoughts of "what a blithering idiot." No sooner had I said that to myself than my mind was filled with this thought: For most of this month, I've been struggling with how to repent and be more charitable toward those with whom I disagree. It's hard. It's really, really hard for me. I don't have solutions. I don't think I've made any progress in my repentance. But know that you aren't alone in your feelings.
  9. 8 points

    Update From My Son's Mission

    I just thought I'd share with you what has been going on with my son. I got the privilege of talking to him twice a week for the past 2 weeks because of Mother's Day and my birthday so it was a really happy time for me. Anyway, as of yesterday, he's been in quarantine at the Manila MTC for 52 days. He has one assignment - MTC pianist - and his schedule includes 1 hour of piano practice everyday in addition to the 1 hour of daily devotionals (where he plays accompaniment for the hymns). He also gets 1 hour of MTC class a day and 1 hour of required exercise (or any physical activity). He gets 2 1-hour proselyting sessions a week where he proselytizes over internet to people he knows (mostly people from home or relatives in the Philippines because he was only on the field for 1 day and does not know any investigators from the field yet) as there are a bunch of missionaries stuck in the MTC and only very few devices to go around. Overall, he is doing good physically, mentally, and spiritually. One thing I have noticed though is that he has become weirder and weirder. I mean, he already has his weird tendencies before quarantine but now, even I (who completely gets his weirdness) go "huh?". For example, he has started to refer to his journal as some sentient being - sounds to me like it is female - and is thinking on its own making comments at his journal entries. He writes in several colors and it seems like blue/black are his entries to the journal, green is him talking to himself, and purple is the journal talking back to him. Weird, huh? He also sent a video of him sitting on a chair holding a Filipino fan, fanning himself in time to music. It was quite artistic and something his classmates from his Arts High School would label as deep. But it's just 3 minutes of him moving that fan on tempo which becomes hypnotic after 3 minutes. But what really gets me is his letters. This is where his spiritual thoughts just pour out onto "paper" and I realize... man... this is my son and he sounds as spiritually mature as an apostle. It is when I read his letters that I become anxious that I don't know anything about what will happen after the Manila lockdown is lifted. Will he be sent home or will he remain in the field? Because... he needs to be in on the harvest - people need to hear the gospel from him. Anyway, the Tacloban Mission Area will be released from lockdown on May 15. Manila is on lockdown until May 30. The Church has not issued any instructions to the missionaries in Tacloban to be able to go back to normal - as of today, they are still on self-imposed quarantine past May 15. Patience is a virtue.
  10. 8 points
    This sentence highlights my concerns about this thread (or this thread tangent). What "leaders" are you talking about? If you mean various local leaders, such as Young Women leaders, Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisors, or even the occasional out-there (or outright rogue) bishop or stake president, then I agree. But if you mean that our General Authorities, and specifically the First Presidency and/or the Quorum of Twelve, are acting to change basic Church structures and doctrines without revelation to do so, then I disagree most strongly and consider such things fully out of bounds. If there is a danger that our members, especially the younger and less experienced, risk being lured to their destruction through apostate teachings of the world and the worldly, there is also an equally real danger that our members, perhaps especially the more mature who consider themselves more deeply grounded in doctrine and practice, might apostatize by deciding that the leading apostles have left the true path. I don't know that both extremes are equally prevalent, but I am sure that both extremes are equally destructive to those who follow them.
  11. 8 points

    A bunch of memes I just made!

    That is rather the opposite of truth. The real truth is that if George Floyd had been white, his death would have merited local media coverage, at most.
  12. 8 points
    Because of your age I feel like the person you need to talk to is your parents and your bishop. Providing advice to a teenager on such a sensitive subject from random people on the internet probably isn't the most appropriate of things.
  13. 8 points
    Gospel Principles or standard works? The answer I am hearing is YES...but in reverse order. Great answer. Obvious...but true. And, yes, for too many Christians of all stripes, there has not been even one reading through the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. Sadly, some of our compromised mega-pastors are actively advising against much of the Bible as unnecessary. :::sigh::: Keep them ignorant, keep them controlled. I especially like the added counsel to use Gospel Principles, but with actually references to all scriptures listed. Who does that? Very few...but yeah, everyone should. I recall reading a study book from a religion I do not agree with. They made a statement I thought wrong, and in parenthesis it had six biblical references. Most would look at that and be amazed and overwhelmed. They must be right with all that scripture backing them. Alas, I actually read the first two references and realized they had nothing to do with the point made. It's almost as if they simply used a concordance to see if any of the words in their points were also in the Bible, and the listed each verse that contained one of the words. BOTTOM LINE: Want to avoid being a heretic within? Read your faith's scriptures...daily passages and yearly books. Excellent stuff. I believe our elders called this type of thing a spiritual discipline.
  14. 7 points
    Good National Review article on the history of such things.
  15. 7 points

    The Plan of Salvation

    For as much as we know about the pre-existence there is more we do not know. Many of your question about exact details we do not know. However lets clarify come misunderstandings you do have. I make all kinds of plans... and I usually find out very quickly that they will not work. While we are commonly told that Satan had a plan.. everything we seen and learn at are taught tells us his plan would not work. Thus Satan has a plan but there is every indication that his "promises" were lies. For those that followed him everything points to them having full Light and Truth and choosing to embrace and side with Darkness and Lies. Why does anyone one do that?.. I have no idea but people do all the time. Finally angels are not a different type or class in the Restored Gospel theology. They are simply people like us but in a Pre-Mortal or Post Mortal state, who have an assignment to do something among mortals.
  16. 7 points

    Satan's First Lie

    While studying the scriptures my mind fixated on Satan's first lie to Adam and Eve, "Ye shall not surely die..." Satan's first lie is the same lie that has been used since the fall of Adam and Eve. In the Book of Mormon Jacob asked an important question, "Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?" (emphasis mine) My mind is even more fixated on this first lie due to a family member who is now trapped by it. The unspoken belief now, "If I partake of the fruit forbidden I will not die." Another notion, "If I am a honest person, live a good life, mind mine own business, I will not die." Satan hasn't changed, the overall temptation and excuse is, "Ye shall not surely die." We can see this lie in thoughts given, "I am who I am and God doesn't make mistakes," by which a son/daughter of God then chooses a forbidden path (a forbidden fruit) that will surely enact the end of the Law -- death if unrepented and hard hearted. We can see this thought, this lie being promulgated, in many forms all leading the sons/daughters of God toward forbidden roads.
  17. 7 points

    Liberals in the Church

    Towards the end of his life Faust described himself as a fiscal conservative but a liberal on “social and human rights issues” (as defined in the late 1990s). His activity as party chair was in the mid-1950s, and he was a GA (and mostly out of the political game) by the time Roe v. Wade was decided; two years after Roe he gave a conference talk in which he described himself as an “advocate for the unborn”. Faust served in the inner circle of Church leadership at a time when the priesthood ban was fully in place, supported the Church’s Indian Placement Program, endorsed the Church’s policy against elective abortion, was aware of the treatment of the September Six, was on the board of BYU when they were experimenting with electroshock therapy on gay people, and was a signatory to the Proclamation on the Family. “The dogma”, as Senator Feinstein would have said, “lived loudly in Faust”. And under his watch the Church accrued massive financial reserves, a relative fraction of which went for directly humanitarian purposes. He was an unabashed public admirer of that great liberal boogeyman, Brigham Young. *I* don’t have any problem with Faust for any of the above issues. But then, I’m a conservative. It seems spectacularly revisionist to try to characterize Faust as a “liberal” in the modern sense of the word. The modern Democratic Party would have very little use for a man like that; he’d have been cancelled long ago.
  18. 7 points

    Brigham Young statue vandalized

    I'm really sick of how things are going in general. We have a flawed past. Each person is flawed. We need to acknowledge that, learn, and move forward. That's not achieved by erasing the past or pretending that a person is defined by a single flaw or virtue.
  19. 7 points

    New insight from Elder Holland

    https://youtu.be/RIYafkjQVn8 I found this video with Elder Holland talking with a Jewish rabbi. It explains some of my questions about where our leaders have been lately and why we maybe haven’t heard as much from them as we would have wanted. This is where Elder Holland is personally. In my mind it really helps me to see him not just as a leader that I have all kinds of expectations for, but as an individual and fellow passenger on this crazy COVID ship we’re on. It humanizes our leaders which is humbling to me. I appreciate them more after listening to this and don’t feel so demanding of them. Basically this is a time of “renewal” for them. It’s almost a blessing of down time for them. About halfway through at min 27 or 28 it takes a more theological turn. I haven’t finished listening to that part.
  20. 7 points
    I think I may agree with your overall point—that the Lord approves of what the Church leadership is doing, but they could be doing a lot more if we, the membership, were living up to our privileges more effectively. That said: I am a little leery of this proposed dichotomy between revelation and inspiration. Not that I disagree that the Lord manifesta Himself differently on different occasions via personal appearance/audible voice on some occasions, versus the “still small voice” on others; but the idea that the D&C represents all of the former and none of the latter. The textual history of many of the revelations in our current D&C betrays too many edits and re-workings to conclude that *all* of them represent the absolute verbatim voice of God that Joseph Smith transmitted right, the first time, every time. Moreover, some things in early editions of the D&C contained errors and were later taken out (Lectures on Faith, Article on Marriage). Joseph Smith’s own revelatory process seems to have evolved from using the Nephite interpreters, to using a seer stone, to not needing anything at all. Sometimes those portions of his writings that are canonized turn out to be part of a longer writing that was *not* canonized (D&C 121, for example), or were excepted from sermons whose other portions shouldn’t necessarily be taken at face value (D&C 137). In practice, I suspect that most priesthood holders have given blessings where at time they were given very particular language, whereas at other times they were given vague impressions that they were left to articulate into language the best way they knew how (I know I have). I think we set ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment when we conclude either a) that there’s a practical difference between “revelation” and “inspiration”; b) that the former is more authoritative or efficacious than the latter; c) that the former comes to a better class of people than the latter; and/or d) that anything in the canon is the result of the former whereas anything not in the canon is the latter. A tangential observation, as pertains to Woodruff: We need to be really, really careful that we don’t fall into the Snufferist (or, before them, the FLDS) trap of misrepresenting Woodruff or suggesting that the post-Manifesto LDS leadership has been eligible only to receive a second-class form of divine communication. What Woodruff actually wrote in his journal (on October 35, 1891) was: I wish to make the following remarks upon the principle of revelation. Some had thought that revelation had ceased, but this is not the case the Lord is with us and gives us revelation. But I will say for myself that I wish to avoid saying, Thus Saith the Lord, as far as I can when I give the will of the Lord to the people. In the days of Joseph Smith it was "Thus saith the Lord" almost daily until the revelations now embodied in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants had been given. Since that day President Brigham Young, John Taylor and myself have seldom [said] the words "Thus saith the Lord" when giving the word of the Lord to the people. In the 68th Section of the Book of D & C we are informed that when men speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost it is [the] word of the Lord and revelation. I have received a revelation and a commandment from the Lord which I had not revealed to any man which I shall reveal to this assembly and the command of the Lord I shall give to this people which is this: The Lord has revealed to me that there are many in the Church who feel badly tried about the Manifesto and about the testimony of the Presidency and Apostles before the Master in Chancery. The Lord has commanded me to put the following question to the Saints and those who will give attention to it shall have the Holy Ghost to be with them to inspire them to answer that question for the meek, and the Lord has promised that the answer will be to all alike. The question is this: . . . And it continues in kind. Woodruff is absolutely clear that he did get a post-Manifesto “revelation”; and elsewhere he affirms that the Manifesto itself was his response to what he termed a revelation. OD-2 also was precipitated by visions. Revelation still happens; we just use it differently. Joseph and Brigham got the revelations, published them, and used them as a basis to guide the Church by fiat—a rather crude process that did what it needed to do for the faithful core of people to whom it was directed, but also resulted in Joseph being killed and Brigham, John and Wilford spending substantial portions of their ministries on the run. Later prophets get revelations that set their agenda and direction—but then, rather than saying “I got revelation x and you need to fall in line”, they start building consensus in a way that enables their broader community to get their own revelations affirming the one the prophet already got. That just might be how you build the nation of prophets Moses yearned for. As for whether “kids today” are more righteous than those of a generation or two before: I dunno. What does that even mean? Are they “more righteous” if they’re more susceptible to porn but actually fornicating and aborting less? If they’re more cruel online, but less violent in-person? Less hard-working, but also more generous? Less obedient, but also more loving? More willing to bend, but less willing to break? I really don’t know. I’m 40. As a kid I thought my peers in church were pretty on-the-ball, obedience wise; but easily half of them are out of the church now. Today’s teenagers may do worse than my cohort did—but they could also do a LOT better; and I’m not about to begrudge President Nelson or anyone else who dares to express confidence that they will.
  21. 7 points
    I went to visit two families to administer the sacrament today. So I took two containers of blueberries with me from our garden. While I was on the way, the EQP told me over the phone that the second family had already begun meetings at the church with the Bishop. So, I didn't need to go to them. When my sons heard the news, one of them said,"Great! We get more blueberries." Just a month ago I would have gone along with that reasoning. But something has changed in me as I've been more into my garden than in past years. I told him to put all the blueberries into a single container to take to the first family. I could feel the disappointment in their hearts. I told them that we are fortunate to have people in our lives who are in need. How often do we get to share something that will make people happy? How often do we get to do that with people who are in need? Gardening is a wonderful thing because one cannot really grow a garden without knowing that no matter what we do, God is the one who makes it happen. For the practical conservative economist in me, I reasoned that there is no such thing as asking for more because the garden produces whatever it produces. You can't force it. You can't ask it. You're in no way entitled to more. It's a matter of rationing, proportioning, & prioritizing. For the theist in me, we have a lesson about grace and works. For all the work we put into it, God (or Nature/Nature's God/The God of Nature) is the one who makes things grow at all. There is a certain partnership. But in the end, God can do it without us. We cannot do it without God. There is a certain humility that comes from that recognition. Recognizing this, I found that I had started the garden because I wanted to eat the fruits. But now, I'm more excited about sharing the fruits. I'm more excited about giving things away -- especially to people who are in need. Gardening has changed me. I wonder what gospel parallels that conjures up . When I explained all this to my sons, my sons quoted."Doing good is a pleasure. A joy beyond measure. A blessing of duty and love."
  22. 7 points

    Return to Church Guidelines

    A man of himself is not authorized to give the sacrament to his family or anyone else. That authorization comes from him who holds the keys, in this case the bishop. Same with baptism or ordaining to a Priesthood office; if the proper authorization is lacking, then the ordinance, even if performed, is of no force or validity.
  23. 7 points

    No Talk of Miracles

    I have never heard that we should never speak of miracles, but rather, only if the Spirit prompts us to share. I have had miracles occur in my life. Most of the time I do not share them, but there are times when I have felt prompted to do so. For my children, now all adults, I created a binder I called “Family Treasures“. In the binder I have recorded the miracles that have happened to me, my husband, my children, and many of our ancestors. I believe there is a time and place for some of these miracles to be shared. They are sacred. I hope in my telling of the events that they will help strengthen my children and grandchildren’s testimonies.
  24. 7 points

    Fun family history stories

    I thought a thread like this might be a lot of fun. I think it's a pity that great family history stories die with the family members that know them but didn't write them down. I'll start out with a couple of items I picked up talking to my mother on the phone yesterday. I My grandfather was a reactor operator at the Hanford site in eastern Washington, where plutonium was made for the Fat Man bombs (one of which was dropped on Nagasaki). He was a Salt Lake City shopkeeper, married with children, so he didn't get drafted into World War II. But he did end up volunteering to go work on some secret project out in Washington state somewhere. The group of men that he was a part of had heard people using terms like "reactor" and such. At one point early in the process, he was taken with some other men into a classroom for a lecture. The lecturer started out by showing the men an ambiguous photograph of what looked like a giant white sphere, and asked them, "What do you think this is?" My grandfather, wanting to be a little bit funny and answer something other than the obvious "I haven't the faintest clue" instead replied, "It looks like a 'reactor' to me." Because of that offhand humorous answer, my grandpa was made a supervising operator (Mom said something about an 'A' designation). II So the reactor operators were to be trained in the basics of nuclear physics and how to operate these extremely complex reactors. Grandpa's main teacher was a man they called "Dr. Farmer". Mom said that later, after the war, they found out he was someone famous, and his first name was something like Eric. Eric... So I asked her, "You mean Enrico Fermi?" She said, "Yes, that's it! 'Doctor Farmer' was Enrico Fermi." So my grandpa was taught nuclear physics by Enrico Fermi. That's even better than "my dad can beat up your dad".
  25. 7 points
    "When you know, you know" is not about the other person. It's about YOU. Attraction is the easy part. CHOOSING TO LOVE is the harder part. And if you think that "you just know" without making a conscious decision on your part to make that covenant then more than likely, you're going to end up divorced in short order when things get rough. "Fall in love" is a stupid phrase, in my opinion. It's like you're walking minding your own business and you tripped and fell in love. That's what happens when your hormones are making the decision for you. So, when do you know? Here's the best way, in my opinion, to find out. When you're ready to CHOOSE the person to spend the rest of your life with so that when somebody cuter and finer and richer and more spiritual than your husband comes to you later asking you to leave your husband and spend the rest of your life with him, you can HONESTLY look him in the eye and say, "I'm sorry Brad Pitt - Nelson, you are a great person and will make some lucky woman happy someday, but I chose to build a family with my husband for the rest of my life so I can't be with you.", then you are ready to marry.