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Showing posts from April, 2008

Rules, religion and society

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Some people hate rules. I love them. I like to know what the boundaries are. You may ask yourself, “Who has the right to set rules or boundaries in my life?” Of course, you really can’t have a discussion about rules without reaching to the ultimate source of rules. For me, that source of boundaries and rules is God.

My faith provides safe boundaries

I was raised in an environment of faith. I won’t say it was a religious environment because it wasn’t like I was living in a monastery or a church. It was the home of my parents. I lived with four sisters and one brother. Mother read Bible stories to us many evenings as we were growing up. We also had family prayer in our home.

Besides reading the Bible together, we went to church each week. I was familiar with the story of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, and the golden rule as taught by Jesus in the New Testament. The idea of commandments or rules for living has never been foreign to me. They have always been a part o…

No such thing as Mormon fundamentalism

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Once again Elder Ballard has issued the challenge to members of the LDS Church to be active participants and not just silent observers of the public debate that is focused on the church.

Previously the spotlight was on the church because of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. That spotlight has now turned to the FLDS church in Texas, which some people confuse with the Salt Lake based LDS Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should not be confused with this FLDS church or any other group that uses Latter-day Saints or Mormon in the name of their organization. It is unfortunate that there has been such confusion between groups that practice or believe in Mormon fundamentalism. Such practices and beliefs are not part of the mainstream LDS Church.

The Church is using the new media

Elder Cook probably said it best in this YouTube video from Public Affairs. He said it is very confusing to the public when some media use “Mormon” to describe the FLDS church. He reiter…

Matt Slick and the Fall of Adam

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I imagine the majority of people who search for information on the church go to Google and type in "Mormons" or "Mormonism." A Google Search on "Mormonism" today brings up the Wikipedia entry before it brings up the official website of the Church. The Church has a paid entry under "Mormons" so a search there brings up our site first and it is highlighted.

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

On that same first page of Google searches for "Mormons" or "Mormonism" you will find the site for CARM - The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. If you haven't heard or read about Matt Slick before, then you aren't a regular visitor to Christian Apologetics websites. Although many have done so, I'm not sure if I would characterize the site as particularly Anti-Mormon.

While Mr. Slick is clear that he opposes Mormonism, he does not seem to be rabid or vitriolic in his writings. As he says, "I can't s…

Five kinds of non-Mormons

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You may be familiar with the hilarious 5 Kinds of Mormons from Robert Kirby, illustrated by Pat Bagley. But not as many people remember the next essay in their 1995 classic, Sunday of the Living Dead. It is, of course, the 5 Kinds of non-Mormons. Kirby mentions it in his essay in Dialogue, Confessions of a Modern Day Mobber. However, he doesn't share them there and I can find them nowhere on the Internet.

I happen to have the book and it is one of my favorites. I will quote from but not share the essay in detail. I believe a man should be paid for his work. For many LDS, Kirby is the only reason they ever visit the Salt Lake Tribune website. The five kinds of non-Mormons are Ignorant Nons, Tolerant Nons, Irked Nons, Furious Nons and Rabid Nons. Ig-nons know utterly zip about Mormons and aren't interested in knowing more.

Tol-nons think Mormons are quaint but nice and relatively harmless. They don't care what Mormons do with them after they are dead so long as they l…

When a prophet gets Alzheimer's disease

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If you have been a member of the LDS church for any length of time then you probably recall the PR issues the church struggled with due to President Benson's decline in health toward the end of his life. Unfortunately, that decline occurred shortly after he became the senior apostle and therefore, the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was the prophet from 1985 to 1994.

The first few years of his presidency (up until 1988) were good ones. In fact, they were memorable for several reasons. When most members of the Church think of President Benson, they remember his emphasis on using the Book of Mormon. I know I do. I distinctly recall his strong use of D&C 84:53-57 in which the Lord condemns the Church for vanity in not believing and remembering to use the Book of Mormon. Powerful!

President Benson is also remembered for his wonderful talk on pride that is used in many places in the official church curriculum. It is a classic. But do you remembe…

A mother who knew

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My mother was a Presbyterian and a pretty darn good one. In fact, I'm sure she was one of the best, meaning that she knew the doctrine better than most. That's probably because she came from a long line of Presbyterians, many of whom were ordained ministers. Mother was an educator. She loved the Bible. She loved telling stories from the Bible. She loved talking about the doctrines of salvation. She studied. She learned. She taught others. She taught me.

Mother got a degree in education back when most women did not go to college. She would have received her Master's degree in education but never defended her thesis. She was too busy teaching school and raising a family. Her journal is filled with stories of discussing the doctrines of the gospel with her ministers and professors in college. She had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and was never satisfied when her questions weren't answered. That frustrated her.

She loved teaching so much that she took a jo…

I don't know that we teach it

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In case you don't recognize the title of this post, it is part of President Hinckley's answer to a reporter's question that appeared in the August 4 1997 issue of Time magazine. The reporter referenced the King Follett discourse. The answer supplied and the manner in which it was delivered caused the reporter to draw some false conclusions about a very important doctrine.

In that discourse, the prophet Joseph Smith said, "If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man." (See also D&C 130:22)

The article referred to Lorenzo Snow's couplet, "As man is now, God once was; as God now is, man may become." The reporter said, "God the Father was once a man as we are. This is something that Chris…

Objections to the Book of Abraham

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My focus over the last dozen posts has been in answering, even if only for myself, some of the more common objections to LDS doctrine or practices. One that you can find frequently in lists made by critics of the Church is the validity of The Book of Abraham as found in The Pearl of Great Price, part of the canonized scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Disclaimer: I don't claim to be an authority on the subject. I write this from the point of view of a common, regular member of the church. I don't have a problem with the Book of Abraham and never have. To me it is scripture and I love the things I have learned from it over the years. I just want to understand what the objections are and how they can be easily answered by a simple kind of guy like me.

How we got the Book of Abraham

The Book of Abraham is a translation of some Egyptian papyri containing the writings of the prophet Abraham. The papyri came into the hands of Joseph Smith in 1835 and contain …

Multiple versions of the First Vision

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I have been reading Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard L. Bushman. I can tell that it is going to take a while to get through it. I love to read and so far I love both the content and the style of the book. The story is, of course familiar and as yet I have found nothing surprising or unexpected. I am comparing it to other Joseph Smith biographies in my library. It was my mother who got me started on collecting and reading them so many years ago.

I hope you won't be shocked to learn that among the dozen or more Joseph Smith Biographies that I have read I include No Man Knows my History: The Life of Joseph Smith by Fawn Brodie. I'm sure you can probably guess that I didn't like it. Although the research was excellent, I did not agree with her assumptions, interpretations and conclusions. I am no scholar but I know that she did not include material that would have cast doubt on her theories.

Differing viewpoints of history

That's why it is so important to …

Seer stone in a hat - Book of Mormon translation

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From the Mormon.org page on The Book of Mormon, we read, "By the power of God, Joseph Smith translated this book from an ancient record written on gold plates. In September 1827, Joseph received the record, which was written on thin plates of gold. Joseph translated the book into English by the inspiration of God and called the book the Book of Mormon."

Inspiration is defined for us on the same page as "divine guidance that comes through the promptings of the Holy Ghost." Let's look a little closer at that process of translation. From the LDS Newsroom article on the Book of Mormon we read, "Joseph translated the plates in about three months after which he returned them to the angel Moroni. " That's 531 pages in 85 days!

The process of translating evolved

President Faust said, "The process of translating the Book of Mormon was an education for Joseph Smith. When the Lord called him, he was a young man, unlearned, simple, and very ordinary in…

Mountain Meadows massacre in the news again

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In a recent news release, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it will seek National Historic Landmark designation for the Church’s holdings at the Mountain Meadows site.

The intention of the action is to support efforts of descendants groups to memorialize the victims who were killed at Mountain Meadows more than 150 years ago in southern Utah.

A memorial service was held on 11 September 2007, 150 years to the day of the 1857 tragedy in which 120 emigrant men, women and children were massacred some 35 miles West of Cedar City Utah.

President Eyring attended that meeting representing the First Presidency and spoke on behalf of the Church. The memorial service was organized by descendants of those on the wagon train bound for California who lost their lives.

He acknowledged that the responsibility for the killings rested with local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the regions near Mountain Meadows who also held civic and military posit…