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Showing posts from 2007

Mitt, if you read this, stay in the race

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Ken Jennings recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Daily News. If you'll recall Ken Jennings is the Latter-day Saint who became somewhat famous after winning over two and a half million dollars on Jeopardy in 2004. He suggests that the only way to get Mormonism out of the race is for Mitt Romney to withdraw. That makes sense but I hope he doesn't.

Mitt, if you read this, please stay in the race, all the way to the end. Being the smart man that you are, I'm sure you can appreciate how much good you are doing by being in the race. I believe the Church is receiving more attention than it ever has because you are running for the office of the President of the United States. Thank you Mitt Romney.

If Mitt Romney is elected to the office, it will restore my hope in the decency of the people of America. If not, it will only confirm what I have long suspected, that we are on a long slow slide to dissolution as a great nation. Don't get me wrong. I love America and appr…

Sharing the gospel using the new media

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Once again, Elder Ballard drives home the message that using the new media to share the gospel is not only acceptable but encouraged of the members of the church. I am particularly interested in the new media because of my involvement in the Internet. Web development and social networking is such a major part of my everyday work.

I first created a Web site in early 1995, just after the White House went online (Oct 94) and a year or two before the church created an official web site. My interests in using the Internet and the web have not changed much since that first web site done in raw HTML 1.0. It was plain text with a few links - it did not even have photos.

And what did I post on my first Web site? Why links to other early church news junkies like myself of course. We were part of the first LDS email lists and discussed many topics of interest to fledgling web developers. In addition to discussing how to make our Web sites more attractive and functional we discussed LDS news.

Like m…

The Ron Paul - Mitt Romney poll in Meridian magazine

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So I was on the phone walking one of my associates at work through a printer install when I hear a knock at the door. I work from home most of my work week. The boss is very kind that way. There stands a neighbor with a Ron Paul hat on.

'Nice hat," I say.

"Thanks. That's why I'm here."

"Oh? You're selling Ron Paul hats?"

"No. I'm a volunteer and we're visiting Republicans in our neighborhoods to get the word out about Ron Paul."

"Oh," I replied, "I've read a lot about him - mostly from Digg articles."

My neighbor Lance is now animated. "You're on Digg? What's your profile name?"

I tell him and we continue our conversation. I congratulate him on his grass roots activity. We both lament on the state of affairs in our nation and he gives me some Ron Paul literature. Nice material. But what impresses me more is the idea of neighbors visiting neighbors to ask them to read up on their candidate of …

It's all in the way the question is asked

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I was wondering when stuff like this would come up. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and an ordained Southern Baptist minister who happens to be running for President of the United States asked of Mitt Romney's religion, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" Mitt also happens to be campaigning for the office of the President of the United States.

The AP writer, Libby Quaid did a good job of elaborating on the question and offering an explanation. She both quoted from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and got a quote from a church spokesperson in public affairs. I guess the Encyclopedia of Mormonism has become a semi-authoritative source, since it was published by BYU and Macmillan under contract. Apostles quote from it in General Conference.

Of course the best authoritative source for explaining Mormon doctrine is the conference report, which contains the words of the prophets and apostles, when they are speaking in an official capacity.…

The influence of the adversary today

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I would like to expand upon a theme I touched upon in my previous post. It has to do with the influence of the adversary in the lives of troubled teens and others who do outrageous things. Do you remember a survey from a few years back in which people were asked about their belief in the reality of Satan and his influence in our lives today?

If I remember correctly, less than half of the respondents admitted to believing that Satan or Lucifer was real. In fact, wasn't there a similar survey taken among members of the LDS church with results that were almost as astonishing? Ah, yes, here is the article from a 2001 Deseret News story. I remember that survey because it stood out like a sore thumb to me.

The thing that surprised me most about the article was the fact that 41% of the members of the LDS Church do not believe that the devil is a real person. What? Wow! I find that astonishing. In fact, to quote Melanie Cooper as she wrote about it in About.com: Latter-day Saints, "The…

Choices in spite of difficult circumstances

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I just have to comment on the tragedy in Omaha the other day. It was a horrible thing to have a young 19-year-old man take the lives of eight others before taking his own. Any mass murder and suicide is an awful thing to hear about. It is a reminder of the Columbine killings and other tragedies where troubled young men committed horrific crimes.

But I have to ask, why do I not read anything in the news reports where someone questioned if maybe the adversary might have had something to do with what happened? Is that just not considered politically correct? We read the news reports searching for explanations. Numerous people are interviewed from the young man's life for their viewpoints.

We want to know. What went wrong? What could have been done to help this young man before it grew too late? He was in and out of foster homes, had threatened to kill his stepmother, was a known drug user and could not hold a job. I doubt he did well in school. What is it about young men who feel like …

Mormons and mainstream America

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Of all the commentary on Mitt's 'religion' speech today, I like this one from Patrick Buchanan. He called it "a splendid and moving defense of his faith and beliefs." While declaring, "I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest," he did not back away an inch from his Mormon faith.

He also said, "Each religion has it own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree." As Pat Buchanan commented, "Surely that is right."

Another article I liked was one in which Elder Ballard responded to the charge of the church influencing public policy in this AP article. I don't know why this is such a big concern of the evangelical crowd out there. It seems ludicrous that a Mormon who may become elected president would take policy direction from the leaders o…

The Church in the news - impacting public policy

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An AP writer wrote a great article on the church today. If Mitt Romney has done nothing else, he sure has focused attention on the LDS church. In the past I have sometimes been outraged by the poor reporting the church has received. Articles have been full of misconceptions, stereotypes and outright falsehoods.

For the most part, the press coverage on the church during this campaign has been favorable. This article is a good example. For example, Jennifer Dobner, the AP writer, quotes Richard Mouw, head of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena CA: "Mormons believe that God and humans are of the same species. In our eyes they have tried to bridge that gap in ways that really is a fundamental violation."

What a great quote that invites discussion. What is the 'fundamental violation' to which Mr Mouw is referring? A violation of what - somebody's idea of God? Surely not the Bible's. God is our Father in Heaven. He is the Father of our spirits. Tha…

Mitt Romney to give 'The Speech'

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Governor Mitt Romney will deliver a much-anticipated speech on religious faith at the George H. W. Bush library on Thursday. Romney's Mormon faith has been an underlying theme of his presidential candidacy but, until today, it has been an area he and his campaign have shied away from addressing directly.

"This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor's own faith would inform his Presidency if he were elected," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden in a statement released this evening.

Throughout this campaign year, Romney has frequently been asked whether he would address his faith directly. Many evangelical Christians view the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, critically. And voters in general have expressed hesitance about voting for a presidential candidate who subscribes to …

Mothers Who Know and What Women Know

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I am just a little behind on this issue. In fact I didn't even know it was an issue until Carol mentioned it the other day. She belongs to a Relief Society email newsgroup where the subject was being discussed. Apparently, a number of sisters took offense at the wonderful recent general conference address by Sister Julie B Beck, General President of the Relief Society.

I had to go back and read it again to see what all the fuss was about. The address is entitled 'Mothers Who Know." I suppose the main thing that some women took offense at is they felt excluded because they weren't mothers. I don't think Sister Beck intended to exclude women who weren't mothers from her conference address.

In fact, just the week before she gave an equally wonderful address at the women's broadcast. The subject there was "What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable." Nobody complained about that talk with her three-part focus on faith, families and…

Women having abortions to save the planet

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I thought I had heard all the arguments against having children until I read this article in the Daily Mail UK. I just about fell out of my chair laughing until I realized that these women were serious. I am positive the writers of the article presented the story the way they did because they knew how foolish it would seem to so many conservative readers.

Yes, these women are now claiming that it is selfish to have babies because they are not environmentally friendly. They are having abortions and being sterilized because they want to protect the planet. And I quote, "...it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world."

The article includes phrases like "reducing our carbon footprint," and "becoming eco-friendly." Amazing! These women talk about it being their duty not to have a child. "Having children is selfish," one of the women is quoted as saying. "It's all about maintainin…

Making time for the important things

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Another great thing I like about my church is how I am constantly encouraged to study and learn. The LDS Church has placed tremendous value and emphasis on education. Besides the four church-owned colleges and Universities, which are subsidized through tithing contributions, there are the thousands of seminary and institute facilities throughout the world. Seminary is for high-school age students and institute is for college-age students.

The main focus of study in all seminary and institute classes is the scriptures. In fact it is the same in almost all Sunday School classes. We rotate through the scriptures each year: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Church History (Doctrine and Covenants). Of course we are also invited to continue a life-long pursuit of gospel knowledge through our own individual efforts to study the gospel in our homes.

You would think with all this emphasis on scripture study that most Mormons would be gospel scholars. Not so. Some are, but for the …

What I love about my church

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We had Stake Conference today. If you're not LDS that just means we had a semi-annual gathering of members of the church from the Camarillo-Oxnard CA area.

One of the speakers at the meeting was the mission president of the Ventura CA mission, President Richard Ellsworth. Mission presidents are the men who supervise all the missionaries in a local geographic area. They serve by calling, or volunteer appointment for a period of three years.

Among other encouraging comments, President Ellsworth reminded us of an easy way to bring up the subject of the church in conversation with friends, co-workers and neighbors.

He suggested that it is easy and natural to say, for example when discussing the behavior of teen-age children, "What I love about my church is that we have published standards for our youth that help them to know what is acceptable behavior."

Why would President Ellsworth teach us this technique? It is because sharing the good news of the restored gospel is a part of…

We knew it was going to get ugly

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From Politico: "In an apparent push poll, a research firm has called Iowa Republicans this week praising John McCain and criticizing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. ...there were "lots of negatives on Romney, including mentions of his "flip-flops," hiring illegal immigrants as landscapers and extensive discussion of Mormonism.

"Statements were on baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult," said the Iowan, deeming them "common criticisms of Mormonism." "I think they asked twice if being a Mormon would be an issue," this person added. Let's see, "Book of Mormon replacing the Bible, Baptizing the dead, Mormonism being a cult." What do these subjects have to do with a man's capability to lead a nation?

Romney communications director Matt Rhoades offers the following statement: "Whatever campaign is engaging in this type of awful religious bigotry as a …

Lessons learned from a failed LDS bookstore

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I love books. I always have. There's just something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages to read it. A book to me represents an accomplishment. The author worked long and hard to get it into a format to be published. The editors made sure that there were no typos and that the grammar was acceptable to most readers. The printer did their best to produce a good product and the publisher spent lots of time and money to market it. But that's not the accomplishment I'm talking about.

When I get a new book I usually buy it for one of several reasons. Highest on that list of reasons to buy is if it was recommended to me by someone I trust. Second is if the author is someone whose work I have read previously and with whom I am familiar. Third is if the book is one that is getting a lot of press or ranks high on a bestsellers list somewhere. But that's not always why I buy. I'll often pick up a book and just browse through the first page or two, skip to t…

Donny Osmond on Eternal Marriage

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OK, I've just got to say something about the Osmonds on Oprah today. No, I've never watched Oprah before in my life. I was working from home today and Carol had the show on in the front room. Frankly, it was simply an amazing show and a celebration of life. More specifically, of the life of George Osmond, the patriarch of the family. He passed away Tuesday at the age of 90. It was wonderful to see such a large family all together in one place at one time.

It was great to see the Osmond brothers sing together again. It was great to see Donny and Marie sing together and great to see Marie dance again, especially after her fainting spell on Dancing with the Stars a couple of weeks ago. No, I don't watch that show either - it just happened to be on in the front room again. I loved seeing Marie give one of her special dolls to Oprah. It was obvious that she was delighted. But the real hero in my eyes was Donny and what he said.

"We believe we're an eternal family," …

Winning through not being Intimidated

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One of favorite books from the seventies is Winning Through Intimidation by Robert J Ringer. I also liked his other bestseller, Looking Out for #1. If you have read the books you know that they do not endorse selfishness or thoughtlessness towards others. In fact, they are quite the opposite.

Mr Ringer preaches that the path to success is in being prepared and ready to handle difficult situations as they come up. His story is not about how to intimidate others, but how to be organized and ready so you are not intimidated by others who practice intimidation as a way of getting what they want out of life.

I vividly recall his story of closing a deal that was about to go south because the client wanted a contract revised. He had his secretary there on the spot with her typewriter make the changes. And this was before word processors. He was prepared and he got the deal. He is also emphatic that people who practice intimidation forget about you when they get what they want.

The premise of Mr…

The real purpose of life

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Carol and I have met over the past several years on a regular basis with our friends from the local congregation of the Church of the Nazarene. While the subject was improving marriage we were encouraged to find so much good and so many things on which we agreed in the theological doctrines we discussed. As I have mentioned in a previous post there were only a couple of things on which we disagreed. One of them was the concept of eternal marriage and the other was the Fall of Adam and how it affected our real purpose in life.

I was about to go into a long discourse explaining the LDS perspective on this issue when I discovered that one of my favorite co-bloggers, Jeff Lindsay wrote conclusively about that very subject yesterday. To most Christians, we are in this mess (mortality) because Adam made a big mistake. To quote from Jeff's post: "Adam's rebellion forced God to come up with an (inferior) alternative to His original plan. One minister explained to me that this who…

Personal Revelation and warnings to the Church

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I received an email this morning from a good friend who got it from a best friend who got it from a trusted friend who got it from...you can guess the rest. It was one of those sensational Mormon stories about some impending pandemic and how we need to rush out right now and buy this special medicine that is only offered by this certain company based in Utah. If you subscribe to any of the LDS email lists you've seen these things many times over the years.

I felt like sharing a few quotes but didn't want to offend the sender so I'll post them here: "It never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are in broadcasting sensational stories, or dreams, or visions, or purported patriarchal blessings, or quotations, or supposedly from some person's private diary." - President Harold B Lee, Oct 1970 and Jan 1973.

In a statement issued in August, 1913, by the First Presidency of the Church (consisting of President Joseph F. Smith, President Anthon H.…

Psychiatric disorders in Mormon theology

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A while back (Oct 05) I read a good article in the Ensign by Elder Alexander B Morrison of the Seventy about dealing with psychiatric disorders. He spoke from somewhat of a personal perspective if I remember correctly because he had a family member who struggled with mental illness. In the article Elder Morrison debunks several myths and misconceptions about mental illness. He first addresses the mistaken notion that all mental illness is caused by sin.

He writes, "The truth is that many faithful Latter-day Saints who live the commandments and honor their covenants experience struggles with mental illness or are required to deal with the intense pain and suffering of morally righteous but mentally ill family members. Their burdens—and they are many—can be lifted only by love, understanding, and acceptance."

I have had many good friends over the years who have struggled with mental illness of one kind or another - depression, mania, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe anxie…

An honest search, a compelling story

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I visit lds.org most every day. I especially check the newsroom for current topics. It's been a while since I went to mormon.org but found a great story right on the opening page. Watch the video. A young woman is telling the story of what happened when she asked some thoughtful questions in her weekly bible study class.

I won't give it away but it is a compelling story. I especially like the response of her teacher who said, "you've been listening to the Mormons, haven't you?" She hadn't but she immediately called her only LDS friend to find out more about what she had been studying. You can imagine the results.

Over the past two years I have met on a regular basis with some wonderful friends from the Church of the Nazarene. We have shared many fascinating discussions together on various subjects but for the most part we discuss marriage from a Christian perspective and how to improve our own. Rarely does a theological disagreement come up but when it does…

Dealing with Same-Gender Attraction

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I loved Elder Holland's introduction in his article in this month's Ensign magazine on same-gender attraction. He was speaking with a young man in his early twenties who said, "I don’t know if I should remain a member of the Church," he said. "I don’t think I’m worthy." "Why wouldn’t you be worthy?" I asked. "I’m gay," he said. I suppose he thought I would be startled. I wasn’t. "And...?" I inquired."

The young man was surprised and asked how he could be a member of the church if he felt attracted to men instead of women. He wondered why he felt that way. Elder Holland said that same-gender attraction was not a sin and asked the young man if he had acted upon those impulses and thereby broken the law of chastity. No, he hadn't. Elder Holland then said that although he could not answer why the young man had those feelings, he could offer hope and encouragement because he was trying to keep his covenants.

Does this subject…

Headlines and FUD - fear, uncertainty, doubt

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I'm sure you know that headlines are meant to be provocative and to entice you to read the article. It has always been a pet peeve of mine that most headlines are also mis-leading. How about this headline for example: "Home Sales Plunge by 8 Percent." Why, how awful! How could such a thing happen? Those poor people trying to sell their houses. Reading the article is just as bad. It is full of words of doom and gloom like worst slump, slowest pace, weakness, pressure on sales, decline, turmoil, worries, drag, severe, fears, threats and my favorite, 'worse than expected.'

It always makes me wonder if the writers of articles like these had to take a class in how to write a pessimistic news article. Or is it perhaps just their general state of mind? You would think that at least one writer looking at the same news could have reported it this way: "Falling home prices mean more people can afford houses." Of course, anyone who has been following the housing &#…

Boy Scouts, gays and the LDS Church

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The city of Philadelphia will start charging the local council of the Boy Scouts of America $200,000 a year to use the city-owned land under the council headquarters building. Since 1928 the City had been charging the Council only $1 a year. What would make them start charging such a high amount now?

The city has made it clear that the move is designed to punish the Boy Scouts of America because it will not allow homosexuals to serve as Scout Leaders. The city says it is charging the scouts $200,000 a year because the scouts discriminate against homosexuals. But the city finds nothing wrong with their discrimination against the scouts because of the scouts' belief.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the scouts, as a private group, have a First Amendment right to bar homosexuals from membership. Philadelphia officials, in an effort to appease the homosexual activists, began searching for a way to punish the scouts. The rent increase was the vehicle to do that. Source: Philly.com

Wha…

So Cal fires: Divine punishment or natural causes?

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Tony Badillo from Dallas TX wrote: "In case the people of Malibu can't figure it out, the fire is almost certainly Divine punishment. There have been other types of punishments and there will me many more until materialistic America in love with sex, porn, riches, violence (including abortion), and deceit and lying is brought to its knees...Malibu is a symbol of individual self-serving materialism..."

Hmmm...seems a little harsh Tony. These are my neighbors. I know quite a few good god-fearing Christian people in Malibu. Let's not be too hasty in judgement. I agree that there are some very rich, foolish and worldly people who live in Malibu, many of them in the entertainment industry. But I can think of two other places that the Lord should let the angels pour the vials of destruction upon first.

One of them is the area around Folsom Street in San Francisco. I've written about them previously. The other is Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. The majority of the …

News Flash: Mitt Romney is a Mormon!

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Quoting the Dallas Morning News: "Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said that Mormonism is a false religion and that Mr. Romney was not a Christian. "Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise," Dr. Jeffress said in a sermon Sept. 30. [ed: (sarcasm on) Well duh! Is this a revelation? (sarcasm off)]"Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult."

Some in the large crowd began to applaud as Dr. Jeffress continued with his remarks. "What really distresses me is some of my ministerial friends and even leaders in our convention are saying, 'Oh, well, he talks about Jesus, we talk about Jesus. What's the big deal?' " he said. "It is a big deal if anybody names another way to be saved except through Jesus Christ."

What a disconnect! I can't believe that otherwise intelligent people actually bel…

The United Nations is a failure

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Mitt Romney said today that the United States should get out of the United Nations. I totally agree. He pointed out that the UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly condemned Israel while taking no action against nations with repressive regimes. Yep, that's been my observation as well. He said, "The United Nations has been an extraordinary failure of late. We should withdraw from the United Nations..."

Actually he said we should withdraw from the UN Human Rights council, but the US is already boycotting that group because of its abysmal record. The council was established last year as a successor to an equally stupid UN Commission on Human Rights which elected terrorist states to lead it. President Bush said that the United States would not participate in the Council but would support it financially.

I guess that's good politics but why we do it I don't know. Maybe to appease the nations who want to feel they are doing something important. The UN has no teeth, nor d…