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Everything posted by Just_A_Guy

  1. Just_A_Guy


    Soon, what? The U of U will win a football game?
  2. It’s interesting how terminology can make such a big difference. I blanch at the idea of suing the Church (and I think it’s normal to want to be extra charitable/give a pass to an organization when you support its overall motives and accept that its members and agents generally are acting in good faith even when they foul up); but I’d have no problem going up the pecking order to figure out how to file an insurance claim against the Church. The Church doesn’t need to pay punitive damages or reimburse me some inflated/bogus “pain and suffering” figure—but if I’m out a couple grand for an insurance deductible for an injury that a sloppy Church officer caused, I have no problem asking the Church to financially make good on that.
  3. Just_A_Guy

    Stewardship vs Trust vs Joe-Schmoe

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it doesn’t matter at all; but I don’t think there’s a problem with asking a trusted friend or sibling to do the blessing instead of someone in the traditional stewardship/line of authority (husband or father or home teacher or whatever).
  4. Just_A_Guy

    Trying to have spiritual experiences

    I sort of agree, and yet something feels “off”. When I take my wife out on a date, I’m not necessarily seeking to have a “romantic” or “bonding” experience or whatever. I am trying to build a relationship, and I have faith that over time me taking her out on a lot of dates (and doing other activities like earning an income, tackling my “honey do” list, spending time with our kids, doing little extra acts of service for her, etc) contributes to a pattern of behavior that allows that relationship to grow and blossom over time. And along the way—of course there will be “bad dates”, planned activities that go awry, words or gestures that somehow get misinterpreted, plays and concerts that get cut short by a babysitter calling us to report that Kid 1 is chasing Kid 3 with a knife and can we please come home right now, and periods of prolonged silence while we eat our meals in silence because both of us are just too tired (or too shellshocked) to make much in the way of conversation. On the other hand—because I have committed to my wife and am bound to her by covenant, I don’t have to drive myself batty over the phobia that an individual experience may not always turn out the way I want it to. Because I know I’m trying, and I know there’s always tomorrow, and I know she’ll be there with me as long as she sees me doing my part. Likewise, for spiritual experiences: I think the focus should perhaps be less on chasing the experiences themselves (or defining exactly what those experiences should look like); and more into doing the activities we know will build the relationship and trusting that in time the experiences will come and that we will recognize and value them when they do (understanding that there will be some common denominators, but that the Spirit also may engage with us in a way that meets our individual expectations, which in turn may to some degree be products of our own culture—which I think is why the Church in some times and places is more likely to have Pentecostal-type spiritual manifestations, whereas in other times or places the focus is more on the “still small voice”). But in most ways “seeking spiritual experiences” versus “building a relationship” is a distinction without a difference, because the things the Church teaches us to do to “seek spiritual experiences” are exactly the same things that we do to build our relationship with God: scripture study, fasting, prayer, church and temple attendance, service, et cetera. So even though I think agree with your paradigm, I worry that some might pervert it into a sort of cop-out or justification for not inconveniencing themselves or otherwise really doing much of anything in their quest for the divine; the way most of those “I’m spiritual but not religious” dorklings tend to do.
  5. Just_A_Guy

    The Record of the Jews

    Nephi often (I hesitate to say “always”) uses “Jews” and “Israelites” interchangeably, particularly when describing events after the fall of the Northern Kingdom—after which time any self-identified “Israelites” who were left were clearly under the hegemony of the Judahite kings, even if they individually traced their ancestry/inheritances through other tribes. I don’t quite understand your question about what is considered the “beginning” of the record of the Jews. Insofar as it contained the Torah, including some form of Genesis, it could be said to have an account from the beginning of the world.
  6. Just_A_Guy

    Free will

    I don't think Mormonism has ever really preoccupied itself with the supposed "sovereignty" of God in quite the way many other Christian denominations seem to have. We're quite comfortable, in principle, with the notion that there are some things that God just can't do. For example, we believe the Atonement of Christ was necessary because God was obligated to bridge the gap between/satisfy the demands of both justice and mercy--He couldn't save us unless He was willing to sacrifice His own Son. And while it's not "officially" doctrinal, we also speculate heavily on the notion that God was once a mortal as we are now--a supposition which which suggests that He had other mortal peers, some of whom may have attained godhood as He has, but over whom He presumably has no dominion. I don't think we really subscribe to the idea that our God must be the only/mightiest God in all the eternities and the infinite universes that ever have or ever will existed. Nor does our faith require that our God be absolutely all-powerful within the realm that is His own. Really, we envision a council of gods who are each supremely mighty within their own spheres (and only One of which with whom, as Brigham Young put it, "we have anything to do"); and it is enough for us that God is spectacularly more powerful than we are and that He invites us to become as He is. As for humankind's "free will" or "agency" (and frankly, I think within Mormon discourse we often conflate those two concepts, but that's another discussion): God, like any parent, has kids who develop independent consciences and wills; and who can only be controlled in accordance with certain principles (and even then, only to a limited degree). In fact, in Mormonism, the kernel of each individual's identity--the "intelligence"--is co-eternal with God Himself. God can organize and refine intelligence, but He cannot create it. The will of the intelligence (or, in its later states, the spirit or the human) is subject to God's power, but is not really subject to God's will unless the intelligence/spirit/human chooses to become so. Within Mormonism, I think the more intriguing question isn't whether our "free will" is bound by God's omnipotence, but whether it is bound by His omniscience. If He can see all things past, present, and future as "one eternal now", as Joseph Smith taught--then in a sense, is my future already written? Am I just pantomiming a role in a play whose ending is already known? In my experience, that's the question that tends to keep philosophically-minded Mormons up at night.
  7. Just_A_Guy

    Biden's Mandate may be a tad too far

    I continue to disagree. Driving without headlights is an affirmative action—you chose not to take the precaution of turning on your headlights; but before that you chose to get into a car and drive; and you could have made another prior choice that would have rendered the precaution unnecessary (take a bike, walk, public transport, etc) Theres no antecedent to the choice to avoid the precaution of vaccination, except perhaps a choice to stop existing.
  8. Just_A_Guy

    Biden's Mandate may be a tad too far

    I think in general, the argument that “you’re killing people just by existing, unless you proceed to do exactly what I say” is a tremendously dangerous argument to make in a democratic republic. Conceptually, my answer to your last question would be “yes”; but I don’t think I have to know precisely what the danger threshold would need be, before asserting that a disease with under 5% mortality doesn’t justify a significant government penalty for the mere offense of existing-while-unvaccinated.
  9. Just_A_Guy

    Biden's Mandate may be a tad too far

    To me, it seems like the answer to a question like this is a product of trying to balance the potential ill effects and efficacy of the vaccine itself, versus the ill effects and mortality rate of the disease the vaccine is supposed to protect against, and factoring in the severity of punishment imposed upon those who refuse to comply with the vaccine. That's the calculation that a lot of the folks who are citing Jacobson v. Massachusetts for the proposition that "heck yeah, the government can force you to take a vaccine" are missing: a) the disease in question was smallpox which IIRC had 30%+ mortality amongst European-Americans (and far higher amongst Native Americans), b) the defendant failed to provide any technically-admissible evidence as to why he, specifically, was an unfit subject for vaccination, and c) the penalty imposed against him for noncompliance was fairly minimal (a $5 fine, equivalent to less than $200 today) In the hypothetical you offer: Ebola, I understand, has a mortality rate that averages around 50%; and I will presume that "90% effective" means "90% of the people who receive it neither become symptomatic with, nor spread, the disease thereafter". I will further presume that the evidence that this hypothetical vaccine is harmful is statistically sketchy at best, and that it is impossible to take any particular individual and make a sound medical argument as to why this individual would be better off remaining unvaccinated. And so in that case, I'd say "sure, let's do a mandate". But let's remember that when it comes to COVID-19: The disease's mortality is somewhere on the order of 5% or less (possibly *much* less; I'm too lazy to look up the stats and refresh my memory); It has been demonstrated that at least a few people have good medical reason not to receive some particular versions of the vaccine; The penalty being bandied about is, effectively, your employability--your ability to support yourself. While I freely support the right of individuals and corporations to associate with and disassociate from whomever they please, I believe that should be a grass-roots process rather than the result of government effectively hanging a scarlet letter around your neck. And frankly, based on things "mainstream" wags like Jimmy Kimmel and others have said lately, there seems to be a spreading perception that "we really don't mind if these unvaccinated rubes just die off altogether"; which is downright scary. While (last time I dug into it) there had been good evidence that the various COVID-19 vaccines could limit one's likelihood of being infected with/spreading some earlier variants of COVID; my takeaway at present is that with the Delta variant the traditional indicia of "effectiveness" for the various COVID vaccines have been seriously compromised (significant portions of the vaccinated can still get it, and it appears a majority of the vaccinated can still transmit it even if they don't "get" it themselves). The one overwhelming remaining benefit to vaccination seems to be that it appears COVID-19-infected folks tend to manifest less-severe symptoms if they had been vaccinated prior to infection--which is a great reason for you to get the vaccine; but which really has very little to do with me. Now, all that said: I think COVID vaccination is a good thing; I am inclined to think most of the arguments against vaccination are overblown; I am upset that so many people shillyshallied about getting it back before the Delta variant became a thing. And I support the right of overloaded hospitals to triage their ICUs and, if necessary, give preferential treatment to patients who did get the vaccine. But, would I want to see the unvaccinated jailed, fired from their jobs, or forcibly exiled from the rest of society? No. I think the punitive regimens that are being bandied about at this point impose penalties that are disproportionate to the misbehavior they seek to address, and most likely represent a White House that is lashing out at an enemy it thinks it can beat after having just had its clock cleaned by the Taliban.
  10. Just_A_Guy

    What the history books don't tell you...

    Yup. IIRC, the Federalists under Washington and Adams wanted to build a navy to fight back, whereas the anti-Federalists under Jefferson wanted to keep paying them off. The federalists got funding for some frigates (the USS Constitution among them) rammed through Congress over the objection of the Jeffersonians; but President Jefferson ended up using the new navy against the pirates to great effect (earning a line in the Marine Corps’ hymn about “to the shores of Tripoli). I believe that in their late correspondence, Jefferson even congratulated Adams in having been right all along about the need for a navy where Jefferson himself had been wrong.
  11. Just_A_Guy

    Judgement and attributing motives

    I agree. I just think it renders one a little more vulnerable to possible exploitation, if one doesn’t have a clear set of boundaries and a firm understanding for where ultimate accountability lies.
  12. Just_A_Guy

    Judgement and attributing motives

    Perhaps; but this is an age of weaponized compassion. There’s a reason the Savior combined “harmless as doves” with “wise as serpents”. And in certain circumstances, I think it’s useful and maybe even healthy to just be able to say (not accusingly, but in a matter-of-fact sort of way) “no, he’s crazy and I don’t owe him anything.”
  13. Just_A_Guy

    Judgement and attributing motives

    I don’t know that I look at it quite as much in terms of “sinfulness”, as simple human relationships. At a future day humanity will all have to be reconciled, not only to God, but to each other. In that reconciliation process, Person #1 will have more work to do than Person #2 will. Why entertain attitudes and thought processes during the day of our mortal probation, that we know we’ll have to un-learn at a future time when such change will apparently be harder than it is now? That said, in the here-and-now Person #2 probably needs to be wary of being taken advantage of/being subjected to behaviors that, intentional or not, constitute some form of abuse.
  14. Just_A_Guy

    When all the help isn't enough

    Backroads, there is zero reason this should be happening; and if the kids really are hungry for extended portions of the day and you’re in Utah, you should probably give DCFS Intake a call. Even if it’s not a case of abuse/neglect (and frankly, though I’m admittedly jaded, I sort of suspect either parental drug use or parental mental health issues if everything is as you describe it) DCFS can still work with the family on a voluntary basis to review what benefits they are receiving versus what’s available, and help them come up with strategies to make their benefits go further.
  15. Just_A_Guy

    The Holy War

    Well, none of those guys like coppers like you, Then again, neither do rapists . . .
  16. Pontificating about “love” by pretty much any modern entertainer, academic, and/or clinician. Given the endless procession of failed relationships most of those bozos have participated in, I can’t think of a group in the past three centuries that is less qualified to advise us on human relationships.
  17. Just_A_Guy

    The Holy War

    Max who?
  18. Just_A_Guy

    3.5 Trillion spending bill

    Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute.
  19. It’s hard for me to avoid characterizing Wakara as a miserable, evil SOB. Didn’t he leave instructions for the live burial of a couple of slave women and children with him to serve him into the afterlife?
  20. So, this is a long thread that I haven't followed closely (family camping trip the last couple of days). So, @clbent04, I'll throw out some random thoughts that occurred to me as I perused the thread this evening; and maybe they'll be useful, or maybe they'll just be illogical rantings. I also want to note that it seems to me that you've been very tentative and vague in some of your questions/inferences in this thread. Some other folks seem to have read you as suggesting either a) that a person can, with some degree of scienter, deliberately reject opportunities to enter into covenants with God throughout their mortality and yet still claim exaltation at some point thereafter; or b) that it is unnecessary for an exalted person to have received their saving ordinances, either in person or by proxy, prior to the Resurrection. Frankly, I don't read you as alleging either of those things--and I'm not sure if it's because I've been reading you very closely, or not closely enough! Either way--I'll respond to some of those ideas, but please don't interpret me as posing straw-men if that wasn't what you intended to suggest. With that said . . . here goes: 1) I don't know that, in these sorts of discussions, it's very helpful to talk about what a "good Baptist" or "good Methodist" or "good Buddhist" or "good Muslim" was. Religion--other than our religion--is, to a significant degree, man-made; and in many cases is so inextricably tied up with local culture/peer pressure that I'm not sure a person's loyalty to their chosen religion is an eternally significant indicator as to what kind of eternal reward someone is going to receive. 2) Similarly, I would agree with those who have pointed out that it's not particularly helpful to get wrapped up in a person's deeds/works in these kinds of decisions. 3) I would also beware about over-emphasizing trite platitudes about charity or "wuuuuuuv"; particularly as the concept has been bastardized and perverted in the last fifty years. 4) The seminal scriptural texts here, I think, are D&C 76 (cited by @mordorbund), D&C 88 (cited by @laronius), and perhaps also D&C 130. Then-Elder Oaks's "The Challenge to Become", I think, is also crucial in getting a proper perspective on these sorts of issues. Again, these scriptures seem to say relatively little about institutional religious devotion; and they don't come off to me as being either legalistically works-based or being rooted in hippie-dippie notions of "charity". Taken together, I think the scripture and Elder Oaks point to a set of "judging criteria" that focuses primarily on the nature of the relationship that we have formed with Jesus Christ, the ability we have cultivated to hear Him, what we have become already, what we are willing to become further under His tutelage, and what we are willing to give up. 5) The covenant path--the commitments and liturgies associated with what we call the "saving ordinances"--are a sine qua non for exaltation, full stop. They are non-negotiable. They have to be made, whether in person or by proxy. No other current institution has the divine authority to administer those ordinances. The quantity and depth of Church teaching on this (as exposed in part by @The Folk Prophet) and the tremendous sacrifices the Church has historically made to make this teaching a reality, is staggering and--to my mind--not up for debate. 6) In the priesthood ordinances, the power of godliness is made manifest. In the ordinances, we receive (or become eligible to receive) endowments of spiritual power that can magnify and enhance every virtue, give power to every endeavor, and fundamentally change our lives. We can also receive these ordinances and thereafter fail to live up to the privileges associated with them. It seems that significant proportion of Church members fall under this category--I know I do. 7) Nobody on this earth is a finished project. The finished project is Godhood; and the most amazing, godly person any of us has ever met in person is a tiny speck compared to the dazzling light of exaltation that may one day be attained through atonement and full reconciliation with Christ Jesus. In this sense, then, no one is living a "celestial caliber" at any point in their mortal life. I can't look at anyone and think "yeah, he's made it." Similarly--and harking back to point 6) above--the question is not whether John Q. Non-Mormon seems to be living a more "celestial caliber" life than Jane Z. Mormon. The question is how much more awesome John Q. Non-Mormon would be at this moment if he had access to the same wells of divine power--the same promise of potential--that we in the Church do. I am satisfied that--as I think it was @estradling75 who suggested it--those who were denied access to that power in life will wistfully reflect on how much better mortality would have been if they'd had that power; even if only in an Alma-esque, "I do sin in my wish, for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted to me" sort of way. I don't see anyone in the eternities saying "geez, sure glad I dodged that 'Mormonism' bullet, 'cause paying tithing woulda sucked!" 8 ) Are the saving covenants/ordinances required for salvation as well as exaltation? I don't know. Is there progression between the kingdoms that renders the difference between "salvation" and "exaltation" moot in the long run? Again, I don't know. These questions add a layer of complexity to what we've been talking about. I've also grown up with the paradigm that proxy temple work is of absolutely no benefit to people who rejected the Gospel in this life; which had always led me to the conclusion (which I'm sort of revisiting now, but I haven't abandoned at this point) that a person who receives a Terrestrial or Telestial inheritance does it independently of any priesthood authority that the LDS Church currently possesses (and has the ability to receive limited ministrations from the Holy Ghost even in their unbaptized state). So, if the Catholics or the Presbyterians or even the Shintos can bring a person to the Terrestrial Kingdom just fine, it seems to me that the LDS Church's raison d'etre is to do what the other churches can't--to point out the path to exaltation for those people who want to follow it, and to facilitate the liturgical work for the living and dead who want to go down that path. There may be some incidental material benefits--supportive communities of fellow believers, cheap food storage, ridiculously economical academic degrees, and the like--but fundamentally that's not what make us, us. I believe it is in our acknowledgment of the quest for exaltation and our ability to orient people on that quest, that fundamentally defines us as a Church; and if we fail to do that, we make ourselves institutionally expendable as far as the Lord is concerned.
  21. Just_A_Guy

    Charity sufferereth long

    In Moroni 7, Moroni as author (or God/Joseph Smith as translator) is consciously aping the language of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. The Greek idiom rendered as “sufferereth long” in 1 Cor 13:4 is generally rendered “patient” in modern translations. I don’t know that charity, by its nature, is any more universal than any other virtue—perhaps I am generous to my kids but stingy to a hobo? Attentive to a judge but dismissive to a client? In the example you cite, I think someone could rightly say that, as an objective fact, I do have charity. I just don’t have the requisite degree of integrity to apply my charity universally.
  22. Just_A_Guy

    Charity sufferereth long

    Well, hang on a sec. When I was a criminal defense attorney, and later a parental defender—I tried to “minister” to my clients as best I could, and I was often point-blank prohibited from talking to or interacting with the victims. Similarly, I doubt our friend @prisonchaplain went out to find every single victim of every single inmate he ever ministered to. We are all of us called to somewhat different ministries at different times of our lives; and I’m not sure I’d go so quite far as to say that we are erring if we minister to a perpetrator without personally, directly giving “equal time” to our victims (which is sort of how I interpret your position here; and apologies if I’m misreading you).
  23. Just_A_Guy

    Condoms are flying off the shelves in TX!

    Hey, @The Folk Prophet, just wanted to let you know I’m not ignoring you; it’s just going to take me a good hour or so to collect my thoughts in response, and I haven’t had a solid hour to put into it yet and probably won’t for a few more days—family camping trip coming up . . . I’ll try to put something together when I get back, if the topic hasn’t gone stale by then. Happy belated birthday, by the way!
  24. Just_A_Guy

    Condoms are flying off the shelves in TX!

    Oh, yeah; that’s elephant in the room when we talk about elective abortion. It always makes me giggle a little when feminists complain that abortion regulation is just men trying to get access to women’s bodies; and I have to bite my lip to avoid saying “Dearie, men already have access to your body. That’s why you want the abortion.”
  25. Just_A_Guy

    Condoms are flying off the shelves in TX!

    I frankly don’t know if life begins at conception or not. I rather suspect that it doesn’t, based on things my wife and other pregnant LDS women of my acquaintance have said about “quickening” and so on. But I’m not so sure about that, that I’d counsel each and every rape victim to go out and take a Plan B. Though I suppose, in general terms, that if an abortion is going to take place, it’s probably a little less inhumane to do it earlier rather than later.