Thursday, March 26, 2020

MARCH 26, 1820- Likely Date for the First Vision? PHOTOS

Today is March 26th. According to a couple of scholars, March 26th is the likely date for the First Vision that occurred 200 years ago.

Dr. John Lefgren and Dr. John Pratt did extensive research to discover when the most probable date was for Joseph Smith's First Vision. They both independently came to the same conclusion that March 26,1820 was the most likely date. In honor of this date which is today and that event 200 years ago, I thought I would post a few photos that I took during this year's Spring Equinox. 

On March 20, 2020, I drove down to Southern Utah and spent the evening at the Parowan Gap. Most do not know that this is a sacred site for the Native Americans mainly because it is an Ancient Astrological Temple. The two mountains and the surrounding region were used as an astrological calendar marking solstices and equinoxes.  Below are a few photos I took that evening of the sunset.

 The Setting Sun at the Parowan Gap on March 20, 2020
I find it interesting that this sacred location in Parowan, Utah is located just a couple of miles from another Salt Lake.  It is not the Great Salt Lake, but it is called Little Salt Lake. Two temples in Utah near salty water.  One built by man where earthquakes can damage it, and the other built by God that aligns with the heavens.

Photo taken on March 20, 2020

There are large rock cairns that mark the exact locations of where the sun will rise and set on these important dates of the Spring and Fall Equinoxes as well as on the Summer and Winter Solstices. It is a beautiful and tranquil thing to watch the sunset as it  slides right into the Parowan Gap.

Sunset on March 20, 2020

After my time in Parowan, I drove into Zion's National Park to go hiking and camped Saturday evening with a couple of friends. The clouds dissipated after the sunset and it was a beautiful evening to star gaze. I don't know if I have ever seen Venus so bright.

Entrance into Zion's National Park, photo taken on March 21, 2020

We woke up the next morning just after 4:00 am to begin our hike up to the top of Angels Landing. Overhead in the sky as we hiked, there was an alignment of  three planets: Saturn, Mars and Jupiter (seen below left to right respectively).

Night sky of the three Planets taken on the morning of March 22, 2020

Hiking to the top of Angels Landing is not for the fainthearted, especially if you are hiking in darkness before dawn. However, it was fun to hear an Owl hooting as we approached the saddle.


After hours of hiking we finally reached the summit. The sun begin to hit the tops of the surrounding peaks. We were greeted by a raven who circled above our heads in a clockwise direction.


As we began to descend and the sun hit our faces. We saw the King of Birds.. the Condor.





What make the entire ascent to the top of Angels Landing so memorable was not only to see the enormous Condor bird fly majestically towards us... but it landed on the rocks. It allowed us to hike close and to see him up close and personal. See photo below.


Photo taken by my friend who had the best position on the sheer rock ledge to take this photo.


It was an unforgettable hike, full of symbolism, beauty and accomplishment.  

Thursday, March 19, 2020

THE HEAVENS ARE OPEN AGAIN - Honoring the Bicentennial of The First Vision



Today, March 19, 2020 is the spring equinox. It is earliest day for the vernal equinox to occur in over 100 years. This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. What makes this Spring Equinox even more important is that it also marks the 200 anniversary of Joseph Smith's Theophany with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Although Joseph Smith never penned the exact day, scholars suggest that the date of the first vision was March 26th.. which will be in a week.

Above is a link to first of several short video vignettes that will be released this year as part of commemorating this important event of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a new series intended to inspire all of us to repent and come to know our Savior Jesus Christ and have the Heavens Open to Us just as Joseph Smith did 200 years ago this Spring.




Wednesday, March 18, 2020

2020.03.18 - WARNING EARTHQUAKE and SYMBOLISM


 Doctrine 112: 25-26
 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not  known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.






 My family and I just got back from taking photos of the Salt Lake Temple after the earthquake this morning. It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. No other damage is visible in downtown Salt Lake or around Temple Square. The removal of the trumpet is almost surgical, like a clean break.. even his hand that was holding the trumpet is in tact. You would have to be blind, deaf and dumb (and fully asleep) to not see this as a symbolic event.  Even the tornado that ripped through the city back in 1999, Angel Moroni was able to keep a hold of his trumpet.

Image result for tornado salt lake temple

Tomorrow is the Spring Equinox. I will be posting more about this tomorrow along with a new video to be released entitled: Condemnation.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

2020. 03.12 - PESTILENCE= a contagious or infectious epidemic disease


PESTILENCE: 
a contagious or infectious epidemic disease 
that is virulent and devastating

____________


"And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed,
both by fire, quakes, and by bloodsheds,
and by pestilence, and by famine."
2 Nephi 6:14-15


FIRES

At the beginning of this year, major areas of Australia were on fire. The months-long fires killed dozens of people and millions of animals, and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

The above image is a visualization of one month of data of locations where fire was detected in Australia collected by Nasa's Fire Information for Resource Management System. "The scale is a little exaggerated due to the render's glow, but it is generally true to the info from the Nasa website. Also note that not all the areas are still burning, and this is a compilation
EARTHQUAKES IN JANUARY 2020

World map showing earthquakes above magnitude 5 during January 2020

BLOODSHED

There were gun mass shootings across the U.S. in 2019 than there were days in the year, according to a gun violence research group. 2019 had the highest number of gun shootings in any year since the research group started keeping track.




Sidenote:

Most Latter-day Saints have just finished their study of 2 Nephi in the Come Follow Me study manual. Almost eight years ago to the date, a blog post was written with commentary of the verses 14-15 from chapter 6 of 2 Nephi. Here is the entire blog post. 

Jacob makes a startling promise for those who live when the destruction begins preliminary to the cleansing of the world before the Lord returns. He says "none will he destroy that believe in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, quakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine." (2 Ne. 6: 14-15.)
 This amazing promise is predicated on "believing in Him." This requires us to understand what the word "believe" means in the parlance of the Book of Mormon. Those who believe in Him know and accept correct doctrine, or the truth about Him. Those who do not know and will not accept correct doctrine or the truth have dwindled in unbelief. They do not believe in Him. They may have religion, may belong to churches, may be active in all their observances, but they are not in possession of belief in Him. Instead they accept for doctrines the commandments of men, and their hearts are far from Him. They teach false and vain things. As a result they neither enter into the kingdom nor suffer those who are entering to go in. This includes those who, though they are humble followers of Christ, are nevertheless led that in many instances they do err in doctrine. (2 Ne. 28: 14.)
 There will be many who are destroyed who will be quite surprised by it. They will complain that they have prophesied in Christ's name, and in His name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works, but they do not know Christ, and therefore never did believe in Him. (See Matt. 7: 22-24.)
If you are one of those who believe in Him, and who will not dwindle in unbelief, will not accept the commandments of men as doctrine, but will take the Spirit for your guide, then Jacob promises that Christ will not destroy you. The rest He will destroy.
Fire will upset the order of things and make societal collapse inevitable. Men's self-inflicted woes will not be the only sign of Divine disapproval. The earth will quake to signal God's disapproval. Interruptions of social order and control will be followed by self-inflicted violence. Bloodshed will be widespread among the survivors. Disease and pestilence will be one of the results of the lack of social order. Air and water will be contaminated. Neglected hygiene will lead to the promised pestilence. As the downward spiral continues, food production and distribution will be inadequate to prevent widespread, global famine. It is as if Jacob could see the sequence of events and gave us the list of how it would unfold, step by step, as the unbelieving are wiped from the earth.
Survival during this bleak time depends on the qualification of "believing in Him."
 Suddenly, if you think Jacob knew what he was talking about then our doctrines take on terrible significance. What we believe matters. Not just in the distant after-life, but for the preservation of our present lives. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

2020. 03.11 - CONFERENCE WILL BE "ADJUSTED" AND "ALTERED"

From the mass email sent to all Church members:
Temporary Adjustments to General Conference:

As global concerns over the spread of COVID-19 continue to grow, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are taking additional measures to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

These measures include altering the format of the April 2020 general conference,

We plan to conduct all five sessions of that conference at the Conference Center. General authorities, general officers and their spouses, musicians, choirs, technicians, and others will participate as assigned. But, proceedings of the conference will be distributed throughout the world via technology only. The public will not be admitted in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, or in stake centers or meetinghouses in areas where contagion is a concern.
Provo MTC will close temporarily to missionaries
Beginning March 16, 2020, all missionaries scheduled to enter missionary training centers in Provo, Utah, or Preston, England, will be trained remotely by video conference.
Each missionary will receive specific information regarding the length of training, schedules, and other logistics as his or her starting date approaches. Once missionaries complete their online training, they will travel directly to their mission assignments

Stake conferences canceled throughout the world
The Chuch announced that they will postpone stake and leadership conferences and other large gatherings in Church Areas where illness caused by COVID-19 is a challenge, including,
  • Asia
  • Asia North
  • Europe
  • Europe East
  • All Areas in the United States and Canada


_________________________

Many will remember President Nelson's closing remarks in October 2019:


"General conference next April will be different from any previous conference...."

...general conference next April will be not only memorable; it will be unforgettable."


I am sure many will say that President Nelson is truly a prophet because of his remarks in last conference that the April conference would be different than any other previous conference. I have a hard time believing that canceling the World Wide Leadership Meetings as well canceling the plans for over 100,000 people who have tickets to attend conference is what he had in mind.

The Church announced today that no one will be allowed to attend conference at the Conference Center. All those Conference tickets are now void.

If President Nelson announced last October that next year's April conference would only be "via technology only".. than that would truly have been revelatory..... but this announcement by the Church seems reactionary. I am sure this is a disappointment for all those who wanted to attend.

After the announcement came out, a member of the Tabernacle choir said 'apparently this year they will be preaching to the choir!'


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

2020.03.10 - STAGES OF FAITH

Stages of Faith:
A few weeks ago I participated in a discussion with a group of millennials on the Stages of Faith. Below are a few of the Powerpoint slides that were shown as part of the lesson. I few people have asked for them so I thought maybe others would find some value as well. 




Stage 1: In this first stage, we develop basic faith and trust in those we love, primarily our parents who provide our basic needs for life. For example, if I cry, Mom will feed me or pick me up. Simple concepts of good and bad are taught. We learn that obeying the “rules” is important because it means avoiding punishment. Rules are seen as being fixed and absolute. It is in this stage that we learn the most basic ideas about love and God.

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Stage 2: Faith increases outside of the family structure. We continue to accept the ideas about God in very literal ways. God lives up in the sky with the angels. He is our Heavenly Father. We are his children. The Devil lives in Hell and he tempts us to do evil. Decisions are made based on the principle of "What's in it for me?" Obeying the rules is important because we receive rewards. "If I follow the rules, God will give me a good life." "If I pray, God will grant my wish." In this stage, we begin to sort out the “real” from the “make-believe.”
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Stage 3: At this stage we rely on a religious institution to give us stability and to give us answers to our questions about things we don’t understand. If those in authority say it is so, it must be true. We tend to have a hard time seeing outside our “box”. The authority of the leaders is emphasized to the individuals or groups that represent one's beliefs.. We become attached to the forms of our religion and get extremely upset when these are called into question. This is the stage in which many people never move beyond it. This stage can also be called "Conventional/Group Faith", meaning that most people in this stage see themselves as believing what "everybody else" believes and would be reluctant to stop believing it because of the need they feel to stay connected with their group. Here authority is located outside the self - in the church leaders, in the government, in the social group. In this stage, the church is like a wise and protective parent; we trust it implicitly.

Most of the people in traditional churches are at this stage. Religious institutions "work best" if the majority of their congregation is in Stage 3 and the institutions discourage people from questioning since it threatens the viability of the institution if people start questioning!) When a person cognitively realizes that there are contradictions between some of his authority sources and is ready to actually reflect realistically on them, he begins to be ready to move to the Fourth Stage.

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Stage 4: In this stage, we begin questioning what we took for granted in Stage 3; most experience negative emotion toward Stage 3 experiences. This is the tough stage, when people start seeing outside the box and realizing that there are other "boxes". They begin to critically examine their beliefs on their own and often become disillusioned with their former faith. Ironically, the Stage 3 people usually think that Stage 4 people have become "apostate" when in reality they have actually moved forward. Those who break out of the previous stage usually do so when they start seriously questioning things on their own. A lot of the time, this stage ends up being very non-religious and some people stay in it permanently. Religious groups are always trying to discourage people from making this step. In this Stage, the church is like a parent whose flaws and mistakes are exposed at their worst.
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Stage 5: It is in this stage that acceptance or reconciliation is reached. It is coming to terms with what we learned in Stage 4 and transcending above it. They start to accept the paradoxes in life. They begin to see life as a mystery and often return to sacred stories and symbols but this time without being stuck in a theological box. People at this stage sometimes disobey what were previous rules in stage 3, if they find them to be inconsistent with their paradigm shift. They have experienced connection with heaven, and have been comforted from the pain they experienced in Stage 4. Most people in stage 3 do not like people in stage 5. Stage 3 perceive Stage 5 people to be off the mark, misguided, unruly, and apostate.

In this stage, the church is like a sweet grandparent that sometimes says wise things, sometimes funny or antiquated things, but is a benevolent forebear, and we excuse their shortcomings and failures.
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Stage 6: It is in this stage that we gain complete internal peace and wisdom, becoming a whole person with spiritual power and insight. Those who do live their lives to the full in service of others without any real worries or doubts. Few people operate at this stage all the time. It is the ability to put oneself in other people's shoes, and actually become a mediator for them. At this stage, people have a principled conscience and will follow universal ethical principles regardless of what the official laws and rules are.
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Stage 7: The person has received the fullness of the Gospel and entered into the rest of the Lord. They are willing to and sometimes even are required to die, becoming a martyr for the cause.gardless of what the official laws and rules are.

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I think this is a great illustration of Stages 3-4. 
Stage 3 is a safe place on clinging onto an organization
Stage 4  is the act to faith to reach out to grab a hold of the Lord's hand in Stage 5. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

2020.03.05 - SHIFTING SAND- Reversals, then Re-Reversals

APRIL FOOLS came early for all the BYU students and faculty. yesterdat... (even though it is only March)

Apparently BYU really didn't mean to strip out of its Honor Code a prohibition on “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” That is was now OK to hold hands or hug or kiss another person of the same sex, just like their heterosexual classmates were allowed to do. And Honor Code officials told them it was OK. Even a  BYU Professor told hundreds of students that this change to the Honor Code was a blessing. This change of policy made National News and was reported even in the New York Post.

Boy, do we all feel dumb for thinking that this was true. Talk about Fake News.



A new letter came out yesterday reversing the reversal. Students turned out to protest the move by the hundreds, gathering in the Wilkinson Center.

This feels alot like shifting sand. In my opinion it would have been best to stay on the original foundation and not try and make changes.

I am sure this is difficult for the Church to navigate in these uncharted waters. I can only imagine that they would like to wipe the slate clean and start over.. 

... Kind of like what it looks like they are doing down on Temple Square. A Clean Slate around the Temple.

Here is a new Public Map of Temple Square:








Thursday, February 27, 2020

2020.02.27 - SLIDING DOWN THE SLIPPERY SLOPE FOR BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

BYU no longer prohibits Homosexual Behavior



BYU is my alma mater. Part of my experience at attending this private Church university was to live by the strict observance of the Honor Code. No beards, wearing Church issued modest gym attire and not being able to drink caffeine. Included in the Honor Code was the specific ban on homosexual behavior, including sexual relations and “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

However, this week that all changed.  In the update, all references to homosexual behavior has been removed. Many national news media outlets has reported that section was deleted from the Honor Code. BYU students who were confused at the changed called the Honor Code office and they said that staff  told them it meant they would no longer be disciplined for dating, holding hands with or kissing people of the same sex.

This week  a video recording was released where a BYU professor says school’s gay Honor Code change is 'a blessing



After watching the video myself, I sent the above link to family members who are currently serving in callings in the Church. I asked for them to share with me their thoughts. This was an email response I just received from one of them.

"Hmmmmm.... where are my thoughts?? For the first 3/4 of the video I have to admit, I was confused! Where is the clarification?? I was really trying to stay with him and it wasn't until he posted the one sentence bomb directly from the honor code office, "The honor code no longer prohibits that."
I use to think I was in the majority with my opinion (not that that matters) but i'm realizing that I'm slowly becoming the minority. What a helpless feeling! I'm so use to being a black and white person but now I feel I'm being asked or forced to live in the gray and what s most difficult and unsettling is this is just the tip of the iceberg!!! Soon there will be no limits, no boundaries anywhere with this issue"
----------------------


After hearing about the Honor Code change, a current BYU student sent the following letter to the President of BYU, Kevin Worthen and Members of Brigham Young University administration.

Here is a copy of that letter. It is well written and worth the read.


February 22, 2020

Dear President Worthen, and members of Brigham Young University administration,

My original intent in this writing was to bring to the administration’s attention some teachings I fear, if left unchecked, would allow the adversary to lead BYU students and alumni “carefully down to hell,” as Nephi warned would happen in the last days. Man made 1 philosophies, both apparent and subtle, have woven themselves into the curriculum of many BYU courses. Not only are they contrary to gospel teachings, they cripple faith in Christ and teach acceptance of sin.2

On Wednesday February 19th, deletions concerning homosexual behavior were made to the honor code. As the student body reacted to these changes, I felt a more solemn responsibility devolving upon me. I have covenanted to be a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places. I feel it my duty as one who bears His priesthood to write as the Spirit directs.

Please know that a letter of this nature is not something I take lightly, and is the result of much prayer and fasting. Consequently, I do not write my own thoughts, but write according to the Spirit of God which is in me.

Christ invites us to repent and come unto Him as a little child. The idea of going back to go 3 forward is a profound one, especially in light of the fact that children know nothing. Not only do they know nothing, but they know that they know nothing. Conversely, Jacob warns, ...When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-29)

There is eternally a spiritual danger associated with learning: pride. Mankind has an inclination towards it. It’s eternally a part of a pattern we call “the pride cycle.” As soon as we get a little of something, as we suppose, we immediately begin to set ourselves up. This 4 is the nature and disposition of almost all men. This is the great barrier that dictates why many are called, but few are chosen.

Due to this fact, we are eternally at risk of falling prey to this error. Even an angel with authority in God’s presence was cast down because of pride. We’re never fully safe from its 5 grasp, and historical patterns suggest that it is always our inevitable downfall.

Academic institutions worldwide are guilty of setting aside His counsels. They trample the God of Israel under their feet by setting Him at naught. We are guilty of doing the same 6 when we ignore His word, asking instead for things which we cannot understand.7

The Lord has been unequivocal in His declaration that marriage between a man and a woman is in the image of God. There are no exceptions. I’d think this matter clear enough, but am continually surprised by how many members (faculty and student alike) believe this doctrine to be changeable, man made, or even contrary to God’s true character.

One class in which I am currently enrolled, Sociality of Gender, starts day one on the basis that gender is sheerly a social construct. It leaves no room for legitimate biological differences, or makes any attempt to support or understand the assertion laid out in The Family: A Proclamation to the Word, that gender is an essential characteristic and part of one’s eternal identity. While I understand the value in considering opposing viewpoints, no effort in this class is made to consider more than one. The required text, entitled Questioning Gender, reads in one passage the following:

“As sociologists who understand the importance of social construction, in this textbook we’ll assume a strong social constructionist perspective. This means that most of the time we’ll talk about gender rather than sex categorires, assuming that both are socially constructed. We’ll talk about women and men rather than females and males. ... “Most theorists who argue from the strong social constructionist point of view would say that , yes, of course we have physical bodies. The problem is that our categories--male and female--don’t accurately describe the reality of those physical bodies. In fact, many would argue that the diversity in our physical bodies is greater than our categories would lead us to believe. They might go so far as to argue that our belief in how bodies should be gets in the way of our perceiving the way bodies actually are. Because we believe that everyone should have a penis or vagina, we tend to ignore the repeated cases of people who have both. Because we believe that one’s biological sex category should match up with the gender one expresses, we stigmatize transgender people, who violate these norms.”9

Later in the book, another paragraph reads,

“We began this chapter with one vision of what sexuality might look like in a world without gender. John Stoltenberg’s (2006) vision of having sex without having a sex is also a world where solidity of the links between sexuality and gender becomes a little more fluid. A queer theory approach gives us another vision of what sexuality unhooked from sex category and gender might look like. Kate Bornstein (1994) is a transwoman, and in her book Gender Outlaw, she suggested what desire might look like uncoupled from these other categories. Instead of basing our sexual choices on the particualr genitalia someone does or does not posses, which is assumed under the categories of homosexual and heterosexual, what if we chose based on the particular type of sexual activity we prefer? Bornstein proposed a set of colored bracelets that could be worn to indicate the type of sexual activity preferred by individuals as well as their preferred position of dominance or passivity. An orange bracelet would indicate “anything goes,” while a light blue bracelet would indicate a preference for oral sex.” Surely the kinds of things one likes to do sexually are an important component of sexual compatibility, perhaps as important as if not more important that someone’s sex category or gender. Someone’s sex category or gender doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about what they do or don’t like to do sexually.” 

To put it mildly, it takes a good deal of study to acquire some forms of ignorance. Such ignorance is what fills the minds of the students enrolled in these courses at BYU. In other courses I’ve taken, like Anthropology, professors champion a postmodern reality, denying objective reasoning while embracing the idea that our reality is socially constructed. These teachers “teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost.” As degrees multiply, so too 10 does spiritual ignorance.

Unfortunately, the effect that these teachings have on students is equally disheartening. Following are just a few posts made by students in an online discussion assignment:

“This week it was interesting to think about the fact that everything we grow up thinking and believing about our own gender is completely structured by the society we live in. What we as a culture choose to accept as being good or bad or right or wrong is then put into place. I found it so interesting that some of the rituals done in other cultures to create masculinity were exactly the things other cultures found tolessen their masculinity. It’s all about perspective and tradition and how we 11 choose to look at things. This is why it’s important to take a class like this so that we can broaden our horizons and understand there’s more than one answer.” 
“Chapter five reading was honestly super interesting to me, especially the one section that gives the heteronormativity questions. I’ve never thought about or asked myself the why behind my sexual orientation. Maybe it's because of the church’s beliefs or the way I’ve grown up or both combined. It was also interesting to think about how heterosexual activity has never been questioned before, it’s always been accepted as the norm. The book referenced near the beginning of the chapter also seems like an interesting point of view to have about sexual orientation and sexual actions. If we were to break down categories and live in a world without these preconceived notions I think there would be less judgment about sexual orientation.” 
“I really loved reading about those things too. You do start to wonder how heterosexual relationships just became ‘the norm’. I think the way the world is going we are starting to recognise that there isn't just one norm.” 
It saddens me to think that this is what BYU has become. We have gone from defending the truths revealed in scripture, to tolerating sin, to living in fear of speaking truth, to teaching these things ourselves. This brings me to the recent revisions made to the honor code.

As you know, the previous honor code stated explicitly that “[h]omosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of phsycial intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

Last week, this was removed. Whether the percpetion was intentional or not, every media news outlet (including Deseret News) reported on BYU’s decision to permit same sex dating. The world rejoiced.

Granted it may have been a decision that BYU’s administration was wrestling with privately for a very long time, the only way an honor code revision of this nature could be made is by setting aside the Lord’s counsel. The result has been an influx of homosexual behavior on campus. If these effects were unintentional, failure to unequivocally clarify such will have the same effect as if they were not. Such a clarification would result in disapproval from every media outlet presently commending our “step in the right direction.”

If the effects of these changes were intentional, and the Church Education System and Board of Trustees anticipated and planned to welcome homosexual behavior on campus, then the God of Israel has been set at naught, period. Even if we don’t allow homosexual relations, our tents have been pitched towards Sodom. Along our trajectory, there will be 12 a steady decline in the morality of students attending BYU. We will begin to look more and more like any other secular university, and less and less like the light of the world, or the salt of the earth. And when salt loses its savor, it’s “thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men.”13

"Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord." (D&C 112:24-26)

The Lord of the Vineyard will prune the branches that bring forth wild fruit. If BYU continues to allow these teachings and this behavior to infiltrate its grounds, its people and all those whom it affects will become ripe in iniquity. Then will that which Samuel prophesied be likened unto us:

[And the author quotes:  Helaman 13:5-8, 13-17, 24-29, 30-33]

The strength of Jehovah is found in those who make His arm theirs. If we fail to trust Him and lean to our own understanding, we will be left to our own devices when these things come. The arm of flesh cannot turn the Missouri river out of its course.14

It is not too late to avoid these calamites, but I testify by the same Spirit of revelation by which these prophecies were given that these things will surely come to pass if we don’t repent. I pray that the Lord’s anger be turned away from us, and that we would repent and be saved. I know I am nothing, but I know of these things myself; my words will be vindicated by God because I speak the truth according to the Spirit of God, the scriptures, and all the holy prophets.

With much love,

Cameron Mayer
--------------------------

1 2 Nephi 28:21
2 As opposed to teaching “an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity.” Alma 37:32
3 3 Nephi 9:22
4 D&C 121:39
5 D&C 76:25
6 1 Nephi 19:7
7 Jacob 4:14
8 For the record, research suggests that the “repeated cases” the author references accounts for between .05% and 1.7% of the population, depending on the study and the measure
9 Question Gender, Robyn R. Ryle
10 2 Nephi 28:4
11 Per the textbook, the initiation rituals this student is referencing deal with boys of age performing oral sex on older men in order to initiate them in to masculinity.
12 Genesis 13:12
13 Matthew 5:13; 3 Nephi 12:13, 3 Nephi 16:10-15
14 2 Nephi 4:34, D&C 121:33. No man can prevent God’s justice, whether that be to blessing or to cursing

--------------------

Sidenote: 

Good thing BYU still does not allow facial hair. That has NOT been removed from the Honor Code. HEAVEN FORBID that we look anything like the man who the University is named after.





Friday, February 14, 2020

2020.02.14 - CONTROLLING WHAT THE LDS MEMBERS READ - "MEDIA SPIN"


"He who controls the media 
controls the minds of the public."
 Noam Chomsky
__________________


I found it interesting to see the headlines of all the major newpapers who reported about the 100 BILLION dollars (+plus) fund that the LDS Church has amassed.  Here are some examples from The  Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and our local Salt Lake Tribune. Then look as the positive spin on the same story in the headline from the Deseret News.






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Here was the headline in the Deseret News this week about the same story.

What is really ironic is the name of the Deseret News reporter who wrote this article for the paper. His last name is Shill. Not sure that is his pen name or his real name, either way, he might want to consider a new "pen" name. Shill is probably the worst name you could have as full time writer for the Church. The definition of "Shill" is not necessarily positive.

With headlines in all the major national newspapers, no wonder the Church wants/needs to own their own media channels to soften the negative news that has been dominating the headlines. In public relations and politics, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to influence public opinion about some organization or public figure.



The church holding company, Deseret Management, owns several media subsidiaries that run the Deseret News, the largest newspaper in Utah, KSL TV station, 11 radio stations includig KSL Newsradio,  a publishing and distribution company, and more.  A few years ago, the church sold 17 radio stations for $505 million to better focus on Internet ventures.
The Church also owns the Bonneville International Corporation which operates and owns radio stations nationwide, Bonneville Communications, Bonneville Interactive, and Bonneville Satellite Company.
Another company the Church own is  Deseret Digital Media which operates the Web sites of other Deseret Media Companies media companies, including deseretnews.com and ksl.com.
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Sidenote:
On Monday February 10th 2020, the Wall Street Journal, released a exclusive interview with Mormon Leaders regarding the Faith's amassed 100 Billion Plus in investments.
LINK TO THE Wall Street Journal's audio
Here is one person's opinion posted publically in a comments section:
In multiple responses to having a secret $124+ Billion dollar cash fund, the LDS Church has stated how sacred their responsibility is to care for the widow's mite. Invariably, when tithing comes up in LDS context, the story of the widow's mite is trotted out. 
Being raised in the LDS Church, I remember frequently being taught about the widow's mite. The context in which Church lesson manuals address the widow's mite (from Primary to Come Follow Me manuals), is all about her sacrifice and how we should always pay an honest tithe, even in our extreme poverty.
From the current Primary (children's) manual: "There are people who say they cannot afford to pay tithing because their incomes are small. … No one is ever too poor to pay tithing” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 212). 
The story of the widow's mite is explicitly taught in the LDS Church as a lesson that even in our most extreme poverty, we should pay tithing to the LDS Church. I have heard this my whole life and could find innumerable additional examples where this is explicitly taught. 
The problem is this is almost 180 degrees removed from what Christ is actually teaching in this exact story. The passage is a direct condemnation of (1) the rich giving a fraction of their wealth to the church and (2) allowing a widow in their midst to give her last pennies to the church. 
The story is not just Mark 12: 41-44. The immediately preceding verses are: 
38 ¶ And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation 
Literally, the immediately preceding verse talks about the church leaders "devouring widow's houses" and receiving greater damnation. Yet every LDS Church lesson manual I can find blows past verse 40 and only addresses 41-44. Every reference to the widow's mite is an expectation and demand that impoverished members pay their tithing regardless. 
What is not spoken of is that a poor member's Temple Recommend is also tied directly to paying your tithing. So when Alma speaks of the poor being cast out of the synagogues, this is literally the case in the LDS Church today. If you don't pay your tithing, you are not worthy of a recommend - which means all your temple blessings, your eternal family, and promises of the Celestial Kingdom are gone. 
So, when the LDS Church invokes the widow's mite in context of their $124 Billion Dollar rainy day fund, it makes me furious. To think that "devouring widow's houses" (verse 40) to add to your secret/sacred fund is in any way endorsed by what Christ is saying here is an absolute desecration of the text and the message 
If anything, the Biblical text of the widow's mite, including the condemnation of the rich and the scribes (the church leaders), condemns the LDS Church both in demanding money from the impoverished faithful, and condemnation for not using that money to raise that same widow out of her poverty. 
I have nothing to say if faithful members above the poverty line pay tithing. But to teach children (current primary manuals) that the widow's mite means that you pay tithing instead of food or housing is morally wrong. To demand tithing of the impoverished in third world countries is morally wrong. To demand tithing of the poor that is directly tied to access to the temple (eternal families, heaven), is morally wrong. And to demand tithing while you are accumulating an almost unfathomable amount of wealth is morally wrong. 
And to repeat, ad nauseam, that Christ taught this in the widow's mite story, is morally wrong.

And this just in.. a new Deseret News article for more damage control:

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/2/14/21133740/mormon-church-finances-billions-presiding-bishopric-ensign-peak-tithing-donations-byu-real-estate 

Friday, February 7, 2020

2020. 02.07 - What BYU WILL and WILL NOT accommodate

Next month BYU will be begin hosting some of the biggest events they hold on their campus all year. The first event is the National Ballroom Dance Competition. Every March, thousands and thousands of spectators, along with 26 national judges fill the Marriott Center to watch over 3,000 registered couples and teams vie for National Championship of Ballroom Dancing.  The second event is the annual Women's Conference, which is largest two-day gathering of LDS women anywhere in the world.

It might surprise members of the Church to find out who BYU is allowing to participate and who are not welcome to attend. 



"Nursing mothers cannot be accommodated at BYU Women's conference."


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Here is the link to the BYU website where is explicitly states that mothers are not allowed to bring their nursing babies to any of the events. What is interesting is that teenage boys 17 and older ARE allowed to attend. I don't know which one can be more disruptive.. a sleeping baby or a teenage boy playing on his cellphone. 

HOWEVER: THIS IS WHAT BYU WILL ACCOMMODATE:



"BYU will allow same-sex dancing at annual competition."


The event will be historic for the conservative college, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To host the coveted showcase, which it has every year since at least 1997, BYU was required to lift its ban keeping same-sex couples from competing this spring. 

Here is the link:
https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2020/01/21/first-time-ever-byu-will/

Friday, January 17, 2020

2020.01.17 - MORE TEMPLE REMOVALS


Yesterday I watched as almost all the trees on the south end of the Temple were cut down.

Church tradition has it that some of the other older trees on Temple Square were planted in 1893. They were grand elm trees and the seeds came from the World's Fair held in Chicago, Illinois held that year in 1893.

In fact, one of the oldest trees was located at the corner of South Temple and Main Street. This "tree of paradise" was planted in 1869 and was part of plantings that surrounded the square and extended down both sides of the street. It is one of the oldest planted trees in Utah.




While many of the trees on Temple Square will still remain, unfortunately there are more trees slated to be cut down in the coming days. They will be cut down, removed, and maybe used for firewood and burned. Trees are symbolic connections between the earth and heaven. The roots that are planted in the soil of the ground are reflected in the branches that reach up into the heavens.

In addition to the trees being cut down, it was announced today that parts of the ceremonial temple clothing is also going to be removed and changed. Here is a link to the announcement 
from the First Presidency and a sample photo from the Church. In my opinion, another symbolic element (like the trees) of a connection between what is above to what is below has been cut and removed.

Here is link to the news article in the Church owned Deseret news.
https://www.ksl.com/article/46705726/adjustments-made-to-latter-day-saint-temple-ceremonial-clothing


The Official statement:
Some adjustments have been made to temple ceremonial clothing. These adjustments don’t reflect changes to temple symbolism or doctrine but are intended to make the temple experience more simple, comfortable, and accessible by making the clothing easier to put on, care for, and afford. 
Some of these adjustments include:
  • A simpler design for the veil and robe.
  • Removing the plastic insert from the cap and the tie from the cap and veil.
  • Using a more durable material that is the same for the robes, cap, and sash, which helps them last longer and makes them easier to care for.
We hope these adjustments will help improve this sacred experience for you as you make temple worship a regular part of your life.
From the photo above that the Church publicly posted, many faithful Church members will see some of the elements that have been removal like the circular insert in the cap and the ties from the cap and the veil.

I am grateful for good friends who share with me their research and knowledge, one such friend writes this blog. He shared the following information to me in a personal email and with his permission I share the following.

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Regarding the removed of the circular insert:

The cap is circular when viewed from above, like the pupil of an eye. It is similar in symbolism to the Egyptian hypocephalus, which was a circular disk placed under the head (hypo = under, kephelae = head) of the mummy. It represented the Eye of Horus on earth which looked upward into the eye of eternity (source, search for "pupil"). It represents seeing eye to eye with God, having an eye single to his glory. It is the conduit through which light and life flow from heaven into the soul. For all the same reasons, it shares the same symbolism with a seer stone(s). Also, regarding the connection between the cap, seerstone, hypocephalus connection: The caps worn by the priests in their temple service served as a cushion for a crown, and stood in place for the crown itself. (Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos, Deseret Book, Pg. 55)

Facsimile #2 is a drawing of a hypocephalus. Figure 3 depicts God sitting enthroned on his ark, and around/on his head is a circular "crown of eternal light".

The function of the seerstone and hypocephalus were similar, to transmit light from God to the head of the initiate. The cap symbolizes this transmission, and represents the "crown of eternal light" that shines out of those who are chosen, called up through the veil, and anointed Kings and Priests unto God. 

Regarding the removed of the tie of the cap to the robe:

Our degree of fellowship with heaven is symbolized by the wearing of robes. This fellowship is "priesthood", as you know. Of the fulness of this priesthood, Joseph Smith said:

"is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation and every important matter is revealed from heaven...It is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing his glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth and through which he has continued to reveal himself to the children of men to the present time and through which he will make known his purposes to the end of time." (source)
and
"And God said unto Noah the end of all flesh is before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and behold I will destroy them with the earth," thus we behold the Keys of this priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that he talked with him in a familiar and friendly manner, that he continued to him the Keys, the Covenants, the power and the glory with which he blessed Adam at the beginning." (ibid)

The relationship with God symbolized by your robes is the channel through which he will reveal the knowledge that will save you and your family. In other words, there is an eternal link between the cap and the robe. The robe symbolizes the relationship one has with heaven, and the cap symbolizes the receipt of saving knowledge.

There is a bow on the cap, with six loops of fabric. This symbolizes the six active days of creation, which, combined with your own soul, fully redeem creation as you walk through the veil. If people will do this, the Earth will truly not be utterly wasted at the coming of Christ and the Fathers.

The epaulet on the shoulder folds three times in one direction, and four times in the other, creating twelve segmentations. These represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Aaron's priestly vestments included shoulder pieces supporting the ephod, and on each shoulder there was an onyx stone engraved with names of six of the tribes. When Aaron walked through the veil and the Lord looked down upon him, the names of his people would be engraved on the upward-facing shoulder piece of the ephod as a memorial. The people could be assured that the Lord would remember them and his covenants to their fathers (Exodus 28:9-12). We carry the same memorial through the veil on our epaulet, a silent plea to God to remember scattered Israel. Inasmuch as the blood of Israel actually flows in our veins, walking through the veil redeems Israel just as Aaron symbolically redeemed Israel by carrying them through the veil.

The link between the cap and robe (revelation and priesthood) happens between the bow and the epaulet. The result of our relationship with God (if we develop it) is to be adopted into the family of God through Israel, and to receive a knowledge of the hidden mysteries of creation in the Holy of Holies.

As a side note, there is also a complementarity between the cap/seer stone and the woman's facial veil. The following comes from an interview with Joseph Smith Sr. where he summarized the Book of Mormon as far as he was familiar (including the lost portion of the record). When King Mosiah I found the Jaredite seer stones on the ground during the Nephite exodus through the wilderness, he took them to the tabernacle. The Lord asked him “What have you got in your hand, there?” Mosiah replied that he did not know, but had come to inquire. The Lord said "Put it on your face, and put your face in a skin, and you will see what it is." Mosiah put on the spectacles and veiled himself in an animal skin, and could see everything past, present, and future." (source )

When Joseph Smith used the seer stone, he had to place his face in a hat. The only description we have of the material of Joseph's hat specifies that it was a beaver-skin hat. Don Bradley argues that "Joseph Smith did not understand himself to be looking into a hat, per se, but rather to be looking into an animal skin." (source).

The facial veil, the skin of an animal who gave its life for the purpose, is needed to mediate and filter out all unwanted ambient light. It creates space for the coherent and properly ordered transmission of knowledge through the seer stone. The veil's function is "wisdom", and the seer stone's "knowledge".