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Posts posted by MrShorty

  1. I would say it is mostly culture and tradition (cue Tevye and the people of Anatevka). I find that we are somewhat uncomfortable conceding too much to personal preference, but I sometimes think personal preference ought to have more sway. Part of me would say that God's opinion ought to have the greatest impact on what we choose, but I sometimes find it difficult to really find God's will amidst the much louder voices of culture, tradition, and personal preference.

  2. I find this an interesting question. The first time I really encountered this was while serving a mission. We encountered a woman who took an immediate interest in our message. She started reading the Book of Mormon and initially felt good about it. However, as we challenged her to really pray about it, she reported that she received the impression that God did not want her to continue reading the BoM and studying with the missionaries. Obviously, I have no way to verify her experience, but it was the first time I had to wrestle with the possibility that God would give someone an answer contrary to the answer we would expect as missionaries.

    I don't know that I have the final answer on the question. As I get older, I think there might be a bit more "It's between you and God" for a lot of things, and a lot less "you'd better pick right" than my orthodox self would have believed.

  3. Some here would probably consider it a progressive cesspool, but BCC hosted a discussion the "individual adaptation phrase" a year or two ago that still seems to me to be very interesting. Opinions and interpretations all over the map. Some of it probably could be categorized as "rationalizing sin", but it is not clear to me exactly how to judge individual cases. In the face of such variability and ambiguity, I agree with @Jane_Doe and @MarginofError -- let people be responsible for their own choices.

  4. 26 minutes ago, Traveler said:

    Note that the information comes mostly from insurance companies.

    I also noted that the rankings seemed to be based on data for fatal accidents. So they looked at accidents where someone died, then looked at how frequently the specified factors (speed, failure to obey, etc.) were implicated in these accidents. So it wasn't just about how well drivers complied or not with traffic laws or "courtesy rules of the road" or minor accidents or all of the other things that we tend talk about when we talk about how good a state's/locality's drivers are. They seemed to focus in on fatal accidents and the driving patterns that seemed to contribute to those fatal accidents.

    I also noticed that they listed past years' results from the same study. One interesting observation quickly looking back over three years is that 2018 and 2020 worst state was Alaska, but, in 2019, Alaska was not even in the bottom 10. I doubt that Alaskans' driving habits (and drivers around the nation for that matter) really changed dramatically over three years. If a state can move a lot in these rankings with little to no change in driving habits, that suggests to me that either there is some flaw in the methodology or that drivers across the nation are almost equally good/bad.

    Some states (like New Mexico) seem to consistently make their bottom 10. If you want to really talk about rankings, a pattern of consistently appearing on a list like this might be more meaningful than a single year's snapshot.

  5. One of the most interesting thought experiments around letter/spirit of the law for me was to wonder how the sinless Savior of the world would treat traffic laws. These laws do not really have moral significance, so there aren't really moral ramifications to obedience/disobedience. How does a perfect, sinless person treat things like speed limits?

    The letter of the law is kind of obvious. Never exceed the posted speed limit, and pay careful attention to the signs so he/she knows what the speed limit is.

    The spirit of the law is to move people and goods around the community safely and efficiently. I've heard some justify their speeding by saying that it is more dangerous to be traveling at a speed significantly slower than the rest of traffic. On a moderately busy freeway where everyone is going 10 over, is it ultimately safer and more efficient to blend into traffic even though traffic is going 10 over? Or is strict obedience the way to go and the other drivers will just have to deal with it?

    Spirit of the law or letter of the law? Vague, general obedience or strict, exact obedience? I really don't know.

  6. 7 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

    It seems to me that the LDS Church has a way of “spoiling” people for any other brand of Christianity

    This has often been said, but I recently came across some Pew data ( ) that suggests that it mostly applies to Protestants. Compared to Catholics, we are similar in this respect (about half of those who leave become unaffiliated in both). I'm not sure what it is, but it doesn't seem unique to the LDS Church in this regard. Perhaps it is as @prisonchaplain mentioned. The Reformation has already set the precedent for "if you don't like your current church, it's okay to find/make a different one." so that Protestants don't have as much resistance to just finding a different Christian church. Something about our Church and the Catholic Church reduces people's desire/willingness to find a different church.

  7. 31 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

    I'm fond of saying "in the end, the most valid reason to be a member of this church, is you believe God wants you to be one."

    I like that, too, but it does raise the question of whether or not God wants everyone to be a member of this Church. I believe God wants me to be a member of the LDS Church, but does that mean that He wants -- let's say for sake of argument -- @prisonchaplain to also be a member of the LDS Church or does God lead him to be a member (and pastor) in the AoG?

  8. To me, some of this question revolves around what we mean when a say "a church is true". As others ( @laronius, @prisonchaplain @estradling75) have suggested, maybe truth exists on a continuum where all churches have truth and some more than others. So, when you feel like you have learned all of the truth that Catholicism has to teach you, you split off into Protestantism. And move through various branches of Protestantism until you get all the truth from them, and so on, never truly committing to any one church. As Latter-day Saints, we like to say that we have more truth than all of the others and invite people to join us for the richest truth smorgasbord (when they are ready).

    I suppose that can work, but what do you do when, as @estradling75 pointed out, you reach the end of what the LDS church can teach (because there is even more truth beyond what it teaches to learn)? Does this fit into the OP's question?

    In some ways, it is interesting that this comes a day after our SS class discussed Moroni 6 and the reasons given for membership and participation in church -- nourished by the Word of God, keep them in the right way, relying on the merits of Christ, fast and pray, and so on (see Moroni 6). As I think about the OPs question, I find myself basically looking at my choices regarding these purposes. What are my best choices for being nourished by the word of God and encouraged in my desire to follow Christ? To stay in the LDS church? Find a different church (Protestant or Catholic or other)? Maybe I have reached a point of such high spiritual maturity that I don't need anyone else to provide these things for me -- I can do them all myself?

    For me, even if the Church is not as true as I want it to be, it still seems to me to be the best place for me to get the benefits of church mentioned by Moroni. Others may decide differently, and I don't know what to make of those decisions, but I trust God to be able to make the best of each person's situation and that Christ's atonement still will have power in their lives and eternity. (Sounds kind of universalistic, doesn't it?)

  9. I don't know about indications, but, at some point I wonder about the implications to what it means to be a child of God created in His image. Based on what @askandanswer pointed out -- that some like Elder McConkie have taught that Christ's atonement here on this planet is sufficient for all of God's creations (children?) throughout the universe -- I assume that we would believe that other intelligent life is also created in God's image. If they are too different from us (both in physical form and in lifestyle), then I would wonder what that means to be created in God's image.

    If nothing else, and interesting thread to spark some challenges to these assumptions.

  10. When it comes to the soft-serve machine dispensed stuff that you get in fast food joints, I strongly prefer vanilla over chocolate.

    When it comes to real ice cream -- probably a slight preference for vanilla over (plain) chocolate, but everything goes out the window when you start putting other stuff in there (rocky road or chocolate with fudge or cookie dough or...

    Another reason not to visit this forum -- it sends me off to indulge in one of my favorite vices. You couldn't have asked a safer question? Like "iceberg or romaine"?

  11. Re: points 1 and 2 -- yes we can look for those radiation signatures. Realistically, how far away can we see and positively identify them? I am no radio astronomer, so I really don't know, but what do our radio emissions look like against the backdrop of our sun -- and the broader universe? How far away could one realistically be to distinguish our radiation signatures from naturally occurring radiation?

    Re: point 3, I agree that part of the problem of our being detected by others is that we have only been transmitting/radiating unnatural radiation for about 100 years, so there is only about a 100 ly bubble in which we could be detected by those emissions (assuming they could be differentiated from the naturally occurring radiation from the sun). By the same token, a radiation signature from another civilization needs sufficient time to get to us. It took us some 4.5 billion years (of a 10ish billion year life cycle of the sun) to get to the point of radiating unnatural signatures. We need to look at a star during the "time" when that star might be harboring intelligent life. How narrow/wide is that time window?

  12. 1 hour ago, Traveler said:

    Science has not found a trace of intelligence life anywhere.

    True, but it seems arguable that science has not been able to penetrate very deep into the universe. According to the Planetary Habitability laboratory (, the farthest exoplanet (not even considering planet type or habitability) is about 30 kly away. For comparison, it is estimated that our planet is about 30 kly from the center of our galaxy, so our "bubble" of observing exoplanets consists of only a small portion of our Milky Way. I don't know what it would take to detect intelligent life outside of our solar system, but it seems almost certain that we have barely even begun to search and we are severely limited in our ability to search. At present, I'm not sure science can even begin to answer the question.

    1 hour ago, Traveler said:

    How unique is earth to this universe?

    I guess it depends on what characteristics you consider when you say "unique". Clearly, within our observation limits, Earth is the only one with confirmed life, but there are several "rocky, Earth size planets" within our observation limits.

    1 hour ago, Traveler said:

    We are led to believe that G-d has created many worlds

    As much as I despise semantics, I get hung up what we mean/scripture means when it says "world" in this context. Is a star/solar system considered a world? A galaxy? A universe?

    I'm not sure how to answer the questions of how hostile other environments would be to life without assuming isotropy. Assuming life on other worlds is similar to our life, then I would hypothesize that all life exists under similar hostile conditions. Would life existing under non-hostile conditions be similar enough to us to be recognized as having the same Father?

  13. I agree that there are no official teachings.

    2 hours ago, Gomezaddams51 said:

    Being a Demi-God shouldn't exclude Jesus from having to follow the "Plan".

    2 things -- 1, was Jesus merely a "demi-god" or was He a full fledged god? We talk about Jesus being Jehovah the God of the Old Testament that He was fully God before He even obtained a mortal body. Part of the answer here might depend on exactly how one chooses to view Jesus/Jehovah's status before He came to Earth.

    2) Why shouldn't Jesus be excluded from following the plan? There's a lot about Jesus that seems to make Him unique among Father's children. He seems to have been a member of the Godhead before He received a body. I see several ways that Jesus's path seems very different from our path. Personally, I see no reason to think that Jesus must have followed (or will yet follow) the path that we are following.

     There's a lot that hasn't been revealed, so who knows what is right and true. I'm sure there are some ways that Christ's path is similar to ours. Exactly how it is similar and how it is different hasn't been revealed.

  14. It is an interesting document. The main thing that has stood out to me is this idea

    the path of discipleship takes us through a narrow course between two spiritual monsters: unbridled progressivism and obstinate fundamentalism.

    It is an interesting idea. I kind of roll my eyes at the language ("spiritual monsters -- really?"), but I find the overall idea compelling. I'm not sure how narrow (or wide) this path really is (and we all know what scripture says about wide and narrow paths). The idea seems somewhat vague, because the basic ideas are (intentionally?) poorly defined. What do they really mean by fundamentalism or progressivism? I agree with them that it is often a difficult path -- perhaps because of the vagueness of the definitions.

    In some ways it feels like a document by academics for academics, so maybe it won't amount to much among those of us "lay" members of the Church. If so, maybe it's much ado about nothing, because it will only be something academics take seriously.

  15. I don't know if there are statistics by church/denomination that would tell us one way or another whether we are better as Latter-day Saints or not. An internet search found this recent (Sep. 2019) literature survey (a popular outlet called it "the first comprehensive study exposing patterns of sexual abuse in religious settings.") that contains no statistics of its own, but does have a good sized bibliography and discusses a few specific cases :
    Catholic that focuses on the well known controversy they are dealing with
    Protestantism where they discuss cases, but note that there is little to no data to pin down how prevalent it is across various Protestant denominations.
    A few "cults" (like the Fundamentalist Mormons) are mentioned, but again, there seems to be very little statistical data to pin down prevalence.

    Considering that it is hard enough to get people to agree on an overall prevalence (is it 1 in 4? 1 in 3? 1 in 2?) of sexual abuse based on DOJ or whatever source people are using, I am not surprised that it is difficult to impossible to get good numbers on how common it is in specific churches/faith communities. I, like others, want to believe that we are better than others. However, it seems like we would have to be astronomically better than the world to be worth patting ourselves on the back. Something like (pulling numbers out of the air), "We are so much better than the world because only 1 in 6 of our youth are abused where it is 1 in 4 in the rest of the world." seems so unsatisfying. I don't know what kind of improvement to hypothesize without some numbers to back it up, so I'm inclined towards something like Carb wrote -- we are probably similar to the rest of the world even if we might actually be marginally better. At least until some data comes along to change my mind.

    If the article gets lost behind a pay wall or something, the reference is Susan Raine and Stephen Kent, "The Grooming of Children for Sexual Abuse in Religious Settings: Unique Characteristics and Select Case Studies" Journal of Aggression and Violent Behavior Sept. 2019.

  16. As an Eagle Scout, I am overall grateful for what I got out of BSA. I am sad to see them struggle, I will be sad if BSA substantially disappears. I wish things could have been different. I wish that BSA leadership would have had the foresight to take youth protection more seriously sooner to try to prevent this outcome. It is what it is -- I cannot say that the outcome ought to be different. But I am still saddened, and will be saddened by the outcome.

  17. On 10/23/2020 at 11:49 AM, scottyg said:

    Why would I not trust the answers He gave me?

    I have re-read your post @scottyg, and this question keeps leaping out at me. It goes back to the question of whether or not God would give me answers that would lead away. If I trust what I think God is telling me, there are some conflicts there between what I feel God is telling me and what the Church says God is saying. It's not necessarily about the entire "is this the true Church", but smaller issues and questions.Trusting what God has said in the past about this being His Church, but also trusting what He seems to be telling me now about specific issues is difficult. Trusting God is key, but it is difficult when you get seemingly mixed messages from God.

    I am reminded of something Pres. Oaks said at the Be One celebration that seems similar. He said that he prayed about the reasons being given for the priesthood and temple ban, but did not receive confirmation of the truth of any of them. He determined to be loyal (and I keep wondering exactly what he meant by that) to the brethren and the Church in spite of the conflict. In many ways, this is where I feel I am at. I don't receive confirmation of some things, and I find myself trying to understand what it might mean to be loyal through the contradictions or if I should distance myself from the Church or just what God wants me to do in the short and long term.

  18. @Traveler I probably cannot speak for others, but I don't feel like I am just looking for a way out of covenants. If changes to covenants are even included in what happens, I would probably classify them more as "changes to my covenants" or "new understandings of my covenants" and not some kind of underlying motivation for my faith crisis.

    I get what y ou are saying about keeping your word, but when a nun or similar converts and joins the Church, we don't hold them to prior vows they may have made (for example, this nun who joined the Church was released from her vow of poverty: ). If covenants can change as part of a conversion experience, it seems reasonable that they may change as part of a deconversion/reconversion experience as well. It's mostly a discernment process trying to understand exactly what God expects of us.

  19. 20 hours ago, estradling75 said:

    I hear what you are saying... But you are excluding "What do you think God wants you to do" from your calculations.  And as long as you exclude God you will have problems in faith oriented environments.

    Part of the "crisis" in faith crisis, I think, is not being certain what God wants from me. Certainly, I am wrestling with those uncertainties and seeking clarity from God and scripture and such. Part of that uncertainty could be simply being open to idea that God no longer wants me to worship with the Church. I know we have had a couple of discussions about whether or not God would/could instruct someone to believe something different from the Church or even to reject the Church altogether.

    If an investigator comes to Church and says they are having good experiences with the missionaries and likes much of what they are learning, but they are waiting for more clarity on the question of baptism, we would enthusiastically encourage them to continue the process of conversion. None of that encouragement means that we believe that we have any direct responsibility for whether or not the investigator continues the conversion process or the outcome of God's communications to them personally. Similarly, if a former member speaks to us of initiating a reconversion process, we likewise encourage them and offer support. It feels different to me when the process could be a deconversion process. It feels to me like "you are ultimately responsible for your own testimony and salvation" feels more like "you are on your own, brother. I want no part of encouraging this." That could just be me, but I think what I am wanting us to consider is if we feel the same sense of encouragement towards the process of study and prayer when we see the possibility of it leading away.

  20. 23 hours ago, Grunt said:

    See, I think this is an issue that those who challenge faith run into and I have difficulty understanding why.

    It seems to me that so many faith crisis issues distill down to the issue of picking and choosing which apostolic statements to accept as truth. If you want to understand what is happening in the mind and soul of someone in faith crisis, I suggest seeking to understand how and why an otherwise good member of the Church would choose to reject  specific concepts taught by some apostles and prophets.

  21. 2 hours ago, estradling75 said:

    If our faith is dependent on the actions others, of them not falling, it is a form of idolatry.  It is also a position of powerlessness, because we surrender our agency to another.  The only position of power, of agency, and of worship of the true and living God, is to act as best you can on the truths you know no matter what others do.

    I must also not be communicating clearly, because I agree wholeheartedly with this, but it doesn't express what I see going on. Perhaps a parable/analogy/whatever this is:

    Person A through various means and sources comes to some understanding and relationship with God, theology, morality, etc. Upon encountering person B, they discuss their views on religion and decide that they have much in common and, despite any differences, they want to meet periodically (weekly/monthly/whatever) to worship and discuss and learn from each other. Over time, they have many good meetings, discussing commonalities and differences, always eager for the next meeting. At some point, A expresses a new insight, which B disagrees with. Something about this new disagreement causes A to wonder if these meetings are still valuable. Suddenly, A is ambivalent about the next meeting, and expresses his concern to B. Can you see how the likelihood of the next meeting occurring depends on B's enthusiasm? Person A and Person B's faith and understanding of truth and relationship to God need not change just because they decide to no longer meet, so each is still standing on their own two spiritual feet. It's a question of whether to two individuals want to or maybe even should continue to fellowship.

  22. 9 hours ago, Vort said:

    Have patience with us, MrShorty. We're not there yet, either. I'll try to reciprocate. I'm at best a pale, distorted reflection of the Savior. But I'm a brother, and I try to remember to act like one. I often forget, and I'm ashamed of that. But I like to think my failures and deficiencies don't define me, and that yours don't define you.

    Maybe patience is another key virtue in this discussion. We live in an era of instant everything, and sometimes it seems that patience is in short supply. Some processes, and I wonder if things like testimony and conversion are long term maybe even life-long processes (notable exceptions like Alma the Younger and St. Paul aside). The scriptural phrase "waiting on God" seems to capture some of what I feel is happening here. Maybe we all need more patience, more willingness to wait upon the Lord to resolve our differences in His time and in His way.