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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

391: THE SUPERMOON, THE SON OF MAN, and GOD'S STRANGE ACT

A took a photo a few days ago of the "supermoon" from my backyard as it was rising above the Wasatch Mountains. A supermoon occurs when the moon becomes full on the same day as its perigee which is the point in the moon's orbit when it is closest to Earth. During this time, the moon generally appears to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons. However, this past weekend the moon was called an "extra-super moon" because the moon appeared larger and brighter than at any point in the last 68 years, We won't see another supermoon like this until 2034. 




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Sidenotes:

As a way to show my support for two of my friends, I post the following. This is not related in any way to the Supermoon but I post it now because I wanted to keep my word to them that I would mention something on this blog.

Many years ago I became friends with  Kenneth Cope. I remember listening to his music back when I was a missionary. Probably the most impactful songs that I remember listening to are "Come to Jesus" and "Face to Face."  

Seventeen years ago, Kenneth began working on the dramatic musical for the stage about the life of Jesus Christ, titled: Son of Man.   



While the music as all been written and is at last complete, the recording is far from it. As far as costs go, to record a project this large in length and with this vast arsenal of musicians is almost like recording four solo albums…nearly 2 hours and 40 minutes of music, with full orchestra, a large 100+ voice choir, group vocals (curious townspeople, courageous apostles, contentious Pharisees, believing multitudes, hostile crowds, etc.), along with some ethnic wind instruments indigenous to the Middle East region, and more than thirty vocal soloists. It is a massive undertaking! 

Funding for the project is needed, and Kenneth has asked me to post this on my blog in case there are some who might like to help him raise the necessary funds to finish the production and the recording.  Here is the link: KICKSTARTER website 

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Last but not least, I want to bring to attention two books that my friends John and Jennifer Orton have written. One has been recently released: Strange Things Among Us and the other will be released shortly entitled "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ"



This is the back cover for Strange Things Among Us: 

The Lord revealed that in the last days He would “proceed to bring to pass my act, my strange act, and perform my work, my strange work” among men. What is His strange work and strange act? How does it differ from His work and His act? And can both coexist? A thorough and careful examination of scripture demonstrates that the great deceptions and trials of our time are purposed as a test—and a gift—from God “that men may discern between the righteous and the wicked” (D&C 101:95).   Beginning with the “strange” great and spacious building Lehi saw in dream, this introductory volume explores the many intricate workings that offer us a choice between good and evil, righteousness and wickedness, truth and error, and God’s way versus the cunning, careful, and deceptive ways of evil. Examining doctrines, rituals, politics, attitudes, beliefs, and traditions in light of what is “strange” paints a shocking picture that hopefully will awaken us to reality and increase our spiritual discernment.    In a surprising and at times difficult irony, we find that men’s workings are strange to God, and God’s workings are strange to men. In His wisdom, mortality provides us the opportunity to choose whether to be a stranger to the world and a friend to God, or to remain estranged from Him.

Here is the link to the book on Amazon:
Strange Things Among Us by John and Jennifer Orten

Monday, November 7, 2016

390: MOURNING FOR MY COUNTRY

"Blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted". 

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While I am going to the polls tomorrow to vote, I think it is going to feel more like going to a funeral. The deceased loved one isn't a friend or relative, but it is my country. I believe our country has been terminally sick for a long time, but tomorrow the decision will be made which in my opinion is similiar to decide on whether or not to pull the plug on the life support on someone you love. 

The country is divided between choosing one who is the epitome of building babylon for gain or the conglomerate mess of everything corrupt and evil. While there are only two candidates that have the potential to win tomorrow, it is important to consider your vote in light of who would pick the next best Supreme Court judge.  

That being said, President Ezra Taft Benson once said,  “Men who are wise, good, and honest, who will uphold the Constitution of the United States in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, must be sought for diligently.  This is our hope to restore government to its rightful role." 

I think it is still possible to vote for good men. Good and honest men who will take the oath of office seriously, to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution. Men who are married and have raised a family. In his acceptance speech, Darrell Castle said the following, 

"The Constitution is the charter of liberty for the American Republic. It is much more than just a piece of paper or just a legal document. It is evidence of the grand design the founders left us and it secures the rights that God granted to us. In the Declaration of Independence Mr. Jefferson told us that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights and to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. That is the purpose of government and the reason why the Constitution was and is necessary. Adherence to the Constitution brings liberty and ignoring and denigrating it brings tyranny. That’s why my political party is the Constitution Party. It is not perfect but it is the best there is.
“Today I want to speak to you in defense of liberty and against tyranny. I speak for the republic and against the fascism that seems to be enveloping us. The general government was created by the sovereign states for a specific purpose; that purpose was to protect our God-given rights. Anything that runs afoul of that purpose is therefore illegal and unconstitutional. And since virtually everything this government does runs afoul of that purpose, virtually everything it does is illegal and unconstitutional.”(Darrell Castle, Acceptance Speech, Salt Lake City, 16 April 2016)

Everyone needs to vote their conscience. I think we all believe that there is truly only one that will be able to mend our country. My prayers are that He comes soon.

With that said, I end this blogpost with a video that a friend asked me to help him create many years ago. I don't think I have posted it on this blog yet. I think on the eve of the Presidential Election that it might be the best time to do so.   





May we all continue in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have hope for a better world .. 
and pray for charity. 

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Monday, October 31, 2016

389: "I THINK I'LL DEDICATE THAT ONE. IT"S GOOD FISHING UP THERE"

In October 2011, President Thomas S Monson in the opening session of the 182nd annual General Conference announced the new temples to be built. He said,

"I am pleased to announce new temples in the following locations: Barranquilla, Colombia; Durban, South Africa; Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Star Valley, Wyoming... I think I’ll dedicate that one. It’s good fishing up there." 

Well, President Monson was not able to take his fishing trip up to Wyoming this weekend to dedicate the now complete Star Valley Temple. Instead, Elder Bednar dedicated the Temple in all three sessions. Here is his photo outside the temple that was published in the Deseret News. 




While most might not notice, it is now becoming commonplace to no longer have an East facing Angel Moroni on top of the Temple.. Last month, I wrote a blog post "Does the direction we face matter"about the new Meridian Temple where I pointed out that the iconic statue faces South. The decision was made to align Angel Moroni to those entering into the Temple instead of the symbolic facing east symbolically heralding in the Lord's Return. The Angel Moroni on this newly dedicated temple in Wyoming does not face East either. It actually faces directly West. With this new orientation, Angel Moroni will always have his back to the rising sun (see the photo below.) I am not sure why the departure from the symbolic East direction.  Having Angel Moroni facing the complete opposite direction seems odd to me.








Thursday, October 27, 2016

388: LDS CHURCH DONATES MILLIONS TO NEW DOWNTOWN SLC THEATER

It appears that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated millions to the new theater in downtown Salt Lake which is part of the City Creek Downtown Rising Project. The new theater is an extension to the LDS Church's high end office building called 111 Main. The 100 million plus theater is interconnected and actually shares the same lobby as the Church's latest addition to City Creek building portfolio. I wrote about 111 Main Office Tower here.


Below is a photo of the ribbon cutting gala event that took place last week.

 

 In the photo below, is the cutting the ribbon. The Eccles family were the highest donors to the building which the theater is now named after. The family representatives are the ones holdind the giant scissors. Elder M Russell Ballard is also part of the ribbon cutting ceremony and can been seen just to the left of the Eccles. The LDS Church is the listed as the third highest donor. Hard to know for sure if the listing is in order of donation magnitude, but if it is, that would put the church’s donation somewhere between $6,000,000.00 and $2,000,000.00 million dollars.  I wasn't in attendance, but I wonder if instead of  shouting "Let's Go Shopping" the said in unison "Let's Go the Show". 

 Here is the list  of the Top Five Listed Donors:

First Listed Donor (building named after)
George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation = $15,000,000.00

2nd Listed Donor
Delta Air Lines = $6,000,000.00
3rd Listed Donor
The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints Foundation and 
City Creek Reserve, Inc.

4th Listed Donor
O.C. Tanner Company

5th Listed Donor
Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation = $2,000,000.00 million

As part of the three-day Grand Opening Celebration, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasted  their weekly "Music and the Spoken Word" from this new theater last Sunday on Oct. 23, 2016. The MoTab's radio and TV broadcast was the first time in its 88-year history that the program originated from a Salt Lake venue other than the Salt Lake Tabernacle or LDS Conference Center.


Ironically, the 2016-2017 Season tickets for the Eccles Theater are now on sale.  Some of the shows include: Dirty Dancing, Kinky Boots and the less then flattering Broadway show, The Book of Mormon: the musical.  So interesting that that the Church would donated tithing money to a venue that would play such shows instead of building homeless shelters and food kitchens. One day I hope to get an explanation on why the Church spends the widows mite on such things. 
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Sidenote:
I was in Cedar City this past weekend and drove by the new LDS Temple that is being built. (See below on the left).  The Church does a great job in finding the most exclusive areas and high end residential areas to build their Temples.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

387: TEACHING GOD'S COMMANDMENTS IN THE HOME: A Sacrament Talk

Last Sunday, a friend of mine gave this talk in his LDS ward during Sacrament Meeting. His assigned topic was Teaching God's Commandments in the Home. I asked him for permission to post his talk in this blog post. Here is a link to the pdf file. I know many are struggling with attending their traditional Church meetings. Maybe if more talks were given like this in Sacrament, more would continue to attend. 

Teaching God’s Commandments in the Home
Sacrament Talk given by Bob Sonntag on 10.16.2016


If the scriptures are adamant about one point, it is that all of us must come unto Christ and be saved. If they say a second thing, it is that there is only one very specific path back to Christ’s presence.
Romans 10 says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” as preached by a messenger sent by God. If someone is not sent by God, or if they deviate from God’s word, their message cannot produce faith, no matter how zealously it is believed.
In Mosiah 4 we find that the miraculous response to the repentance of King Benjamin’s people came “because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which King Benjamin had spoken unto them.”
Saving faith could only come “according to the words” given by God. Christ said of his commandments given in the Sermon on the Mount:
Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to  do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments… the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven. (JST Matthew 5:21)
A study of that sermon suggests why Christ is so particular: the commandments of God exalt you in the act of keeping them. They reveal God’s nature by causing you to emulate his mercy, integrity, and loving kindness.
It sounds simple enough. What goes wrong? A third core message of the scriptures is that we will be presented with “commandments of men” as a counterfeit of the commandments of God. Since most people are actually trying to be good, the best way to lead them astray is to give them a false standard of goodness.
These counterfeits are created when well-meaning teachers think they can improve on God’s commandments by addition, subtraction, or modification (3 Nephi 11:40; D&C 10:68).
In 3 Nephi 18:3, Christ says

But whoso among you shall do more or less than [my commandments] are not built upon my  rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.
Therefore blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you.
He then warns us to be watchful and prayerful to make sure we are not led astray by falsehoods.

When we attempt to teach the gospel disconnected from the words God has caused to be written then the difference between God’s commandments and the commandments of men is obscured. The spirit cannot override our neglect of the scriptures and force truth out of our mouths (D&C 11:21-22; Mosiah 1:3-5). The less we ground our teachings in a careful and correct reading of the scriptures, the more our teaching will consist of stock phrases, trite platitudes, sentimental stories, clichés, and folk traditions. Worse yet, we will develop guidelines; standards of dress, speech and behavior; and invented commandments that spring from those traditions rather than from God’s word. At best those things  simply distract us, waste our time, and turn the beautiful simple gospel of Christ into a soul crushing exercise in behavior control. At their worst they actually cause us to break true commandments. Just as  we come to know God through his true commandments, we gain a false and distorted view of him when those commandments are added to or diminished. Since eternal life means to know God, a false understanding of him will thwart our salvation until we abandon it for truth (John 17:3).
D&C 93 contrasts the commandments of God with the traditions of men:

36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one.
27 And no man receiveth a fulness [of truth] unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things…
39…that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
The most damaging false traditions are those which come to be seen as fundamental, indispensable, essential features of a religion, causing people to disobey God while thinking they are righteous.
[Paragraphs in red cut for time] Orthodox Jews at the time of Jesus were taught that the teachings of their leaders were more important than past prophets, including the head of their dispensation. They were taught that only the rabbis could provide authoritative interpretation of scripture. They were taught that they were to treat the teachings of the rabbis as if God had spoken it, and follow them and be blessed or reject them and suffer. The inevitable result of those beliefs was that they taught for doctrines the commandments of men, developing an invented set of laws they treated as though it were the Torah (Matthew 15:1-9). One such faux-commandment involved a ceremonial washing of the hands before a meal, wherein they recited the following prayer:
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and has commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.”
They knew that we are sanctified by keeping God’s commandments, but, as God’s people almost always do, they invented commandments which could not sanctify. They claimed God commanded them to wash their hands; ask them where God commanded that and they could only point to their traditions.
Latter-day Saint history provides us with numerous examples. I’ve chosen one from the 19th century, because if I chose one from the 21st  century we’re uncomfortably close to some steep gullies that are

perfect for an angry mob to throw a heretic into. This example will help us focus on the role of parents in teaching their children truth.
Here is an excerpt from a letter shared with me by a friend, from her ancestor Gilbert Belnap to his wife Adaline Knight, dated February 25,1856
"Instruct the children in the ways of the Lord and be not too severe in your chastisement of them. Kiss them all for me and teach the little boys to avenge the Blood of the Prophet."
I’m not the most careful reader, but even I noticed that this advice took a left turn somewhere in the middle. Where did Gilbert get this idea to teach his sons vengeance? Shortly after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, it was thought to be appropriate to cause the saints to enter into a covenant to
promise that [they would] pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that [they would] teach the same to [their] children and to [their] children's children unto the third and fourth generation.1
This covenant was thought so important that it was administered in the Saints’ most sacred places, as part of their most sacred ceremonies.
While the wording of the covenant remained the same for 90 years, the saints’ understanding of it evolved, as traditions do. In the decade-or-so between Joseph’s death and Gilbert’s letter the saints came to believe that the covenant didn’t simply mean to pray for God to take vengeance on the nation, but that the saints themselves were responsible for taking vengeance. Gilbert was simply repeating to his sons the version of the gospel that was current among the saints. It was orthodox. It was a fundamental and essential feature of what Gilbert thought Mormonism was. So what could he have done differently?
When he heard over the pulpit that the saints were themselves responsible for vengeance could he have thought back to the wording of the covenant he had made and realize he was now hearing a misinterpretation of those words?
Going back further, when Gilbert was asked to covenant to pray for divine vengeance to rain down upon his enemies, could he have asked himself whether that was the right thing to do?
If he studied his scriptures, he might have read D&C 84, where God informs the saints that they are under condemnation for “treating lightly” the Book of Mormon and failing to do what it taught. Maybe that would have led him to read the book very carefully, where he would read of Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos, and others praying with all their hearts for the salvation of people who wanted them dead. He would read in 3 Nephi 12:
behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven
“Pray for”. Not pray against. And certainly don’t seek vengeance (3 Nephi 12:39).


Gilbert would be faced with hard choices. Should he remain orthodox, and prize the words of his leaders over Christ’s own words, and keep the covenant he had made? Or should he instead follow Christ’s instructions, that he might be a Child of his Father in Heaven? Had the saints chosen that second path, D&C 84 says they would have brought forth fruit meet for the kingdom of God (vs. 58). Instead, the violent rhetoric about vengeance and bloodshed only grew more intense and elaborate in the months following Gilbert’s letter. Words were soon tragically matched by action in eruptions of violence so horrific we still haven’t fully processed them as a Church.2 As Gilbert should have examined his most precious beliefs before passing them on to his children, so we should ours.
We must not expect God to conform to our traditions, no matter how precious they are to us, how  popular, or how orthodox. If our obedience is to the commandments of men, we will only experience a tedious oppressive version of the gospel. Truly seeking God, and leading our children to him, will require setting aside our creeds and seeking truth as little children. As Joseph Smith said:
To all those who are disposed…to set up stakes for the almighty—[you] will come short of the glory of god. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the son [a man] must put away all his traditions. (Smith Diary, August 27, 1843)



Bob Sonntag 10.16.2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

386: THE NEW THOMAS S. MONSON LODGE FOR THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

Yesterday, another building was dedicated and named after President Thomas S. Monson. This comes just weeks after the last building that was dedicated and named after him and days after the LDS General Conference where there were no announcements of any new temples to be built. 











This building is a multi-million dollar lodge located high up in primitive Uinta Mountains that will be used by the Boy Scouts of America. It is an impressive building especially when you consider that it is in a remote area that has always been used for rugged camping for the Boy Scouts in enjoy the rustic outdoors. Below is photo of the view from the patio of the new Monson Lodge.



 On the lower level of the lodge there are many private showers for the scouts to use so they don't come home smelling like a campfire. Below is a photo that was part of the Deseret News article.


President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the concrete facility, along with the Utah Governor Gary Hurbert. (It seemed like both of them coordinated to wear the exact same tie. See photo below. )


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However, more disturbing to me than the 5.5 million of dollars that went towards the building of this lodge, more disturbing that the distraction of this concrete structure will be to natural mountain beauty, and more disturbing to me than the need to put in showers.....what is the most disturbing thing to me is the larger than life painting of President Monson with his awards around his neck hanging in the multi-storied grand lobby right next to the "The King Room". (Thank goodness, the room is named after King Husein, the President and CEO of Span Construction & Engineering, not Saddam Hussein)

Here is selfie photo of President Eyring and friends in front of the painting.








President Monson has been a member of the National Board of Boy Scouts of America for decades. Back in 1991 there was an Deseret News article that reported the dedication of another Boy Scout Lodge near Payson, UT.

In this article  Glen W. Swalberg, Utah National Parks Council president, reaffirmed the Boy Scouts of America position that the BSA would  maintain its policy on membership, excluding homosexuals and girls.

"We will not be intruded upon by . . . homosexuals, and we will not be intruded upon by young girls. There is no place for them in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts," Swalberg said. In a position statement prepared by the Boy Scouts of America, the organization claimed the right, as a private membership organization, to determine the qualifications of its members and leaders.

Wow have things changed since then. As we all know that the Boy Scouts of America on July 27. 2015 ratified a resolution removing the national restriction on openly gay leaders and employees, The previous statement that they will NOT be intruded upon by homosexuals and girls is no longer true. Below is a photo taken yesterday at the Thomas S Monson Boy Scout Lodge where two young girls are part of the flag ceremony. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. 


Sunday, October 2, 2016

385: "POST-GAME" SHOW..(LDS CONFERENCE). WHERE WILL YOU GO?

Just finished watching all the sessions of General Conference. For those who didn't tune in, it was encouraging that many talks focused on The Book of Mormon and the need for repentance.  I enjoyed three talks, Elder K Brett Nattress on the importance of teaching our children, Elder Dale G Renlund on Repentance, and Elder LeGrand R Curtis on the Book of Mormon.

That being said, In Elder Stevenson's talk he quoted from chapter 8 of Mormon where Moroni basically says, I saw all of you Mormons living in the last days.  He read verse 34 when Moroni says, "I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing." I find it interesting that Elder Stevenson stopped at that verse and didn't continue to describe the things that Moroni saw and didn't read any more verses. Maybe because if you read the things that Moroni saw, none of which are very flattering. Moroni basically said, you guys suck. If you don't believe me, read again the verses 34-40 in Mormon 8 for yourselves.

Many are waking up to the current state of the Church,  Elder Ballard spoke this morning and addressed the Brethren's concern that so many members are leaving the Church. He said, "For some, Christ’s invitation to believe and remain continues to be hard—or difficult to accept. Some disciples struggle to understand a specific Church policy or teaching. Others find concerns in our history or in the imperfections of some members and leaders, past and present." But he ended by saying... "where else will you go? or what will you do?"  Well to offer a solution to those questions below is  a friend's website written for those who still have testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the Restored Gospel but also have the same question that Moroni had and asked us "why have ye polluted the holy church of God?"

Here is the website:



In the heading on the homepage of the website under THE RESTORATION there are seven short paragraphs that describe what has happen over the past 200 years since the beginning of the Restoration to where we are now.  Here are some of the quick links to those pages:


It is the hope that this website might be a helpful resource for others find a place where they can go for more answers. We need to remember what has been been give through the Prophet Joseph Smith, do our best to preserve it, and remain humble enough to move forward in harvesting the field before the Lord's coming.

Friday, September 30, 2016

384: THE PRE-GAME SHOW (LDS CONFERENCE)

The following are just a few photos that I took this afternoon of preparations that are underway to get downtown SLC ready for the LDS Conference tomorrow. I walked  around the Salt Lake Temple, Deseret Book and the LDS owned commercial buildings affectionately called City Creek. I offer little to no commentary and I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Written yesterday without much time for editing.. thus there are some grammatical errors. :)
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The First Presidency have all their latest books on sale at Deseret Book across the street from the Temple. At first glance they all look like children's books. Here is the list of the books in the photo I took.
  • Pres. Dieter F Uchtdorf's book, "A Summer with Great Aunt Rose" listed price 15.99.
  • Pres. Henry B Eyrings book of quotes entited, "On the Path Home" listed price 15.99
  • Pres. Thomas S Monson' s book, "One Little Match" reduced price 17.99
  • Elder M Russell Ballard's book, "One Drop at a Time" listed price 15.99

Gone are the days of doctrinal books. However the feel good, short, cute stories with one line quotes are the big sellers. I am not sure a scripture can be found in any of them.


In addition to the books, a big seller are the new one-time use oil packet that you put in your wallet in case an emergency priesthood blessing is needed. Just consecrate the packet, then open (kind of like a ketsup packet from McDonald's and give the blessing. No need to carry around your key chain oil t have to carry around an vial. Besides they look cool and styling. (personally, they actual look like something else that a young man might have in his wallet)

They sell in a pack of 10 for $9.99



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The latest City Creek Skyscraper and upscale office building is almost complete. This is the newest addition to City Creek. It is called 111 Main. Here is the  LINK TO THE WEBSITE


I walked by the lobby and they have what looks to be at least a 50 foot flat inch movie screen with LCD projection monitor of beautiful videography. The streaming videos are of various locations around Utah. In the photo below you can see the video of  Bridal Veil Falls up Provo Canyon.


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 It was reported in the news that an unprecedented sting to  clean up the downtown street to rid it of those who are the "unwanted".  It is being called "Operation Diversion". It happened yesterday just a couple of day before General Conference  as police officers arrested 49 homeless people. In the raid,  almost 50 people were taken to an empty bank building next to the Salt Lake City police headquarters. From that receiving center, 12 went to jail, 30 went to treatment programs and two were taken to an area hospital to receive medical attention. Officers skipped the receiving center for five people, who went directly to jail. Most of these people struggle with addition to drugs and alcohol.  In the below photo I took today they are still monitoring the problem and trying to clean up for all the conference attendees.  


Below is one of the City Creek security officers who went to get reinforcement from the Salt Lake Police Department.  


City Creek Security are now patrolling the perimeters of the Mall to make sure their is little to no homeless or panhandlers. They are not good for business since those who still have some heart might actually give money to the poor instead of buying stuff at the mall.  


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Also at City Creek is new international advertising especially targeting  the Japanese visitors. Below is one of the advertising signs written in Japanese. Probably a smart ad campaign since I think they are the only ones who can afford shopping at the Rolex, Coach, and the other very high end stores. 

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After walking around the Salt Lake temple today, a scripture came to mind in Mormon 8: 37
"For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

383: BLACK MOON and the BLACK CANYON

Tomorrow, the final day of September will bring a rare lunar event, a Black Moon. When there are two "new" moons in one month, the second moon is called a Black Moon, also known as the "dead" moon.  Unfortunately, you won’t actually be able to see it as the moon will appear invisible. It will just be very dark. Usually at night there is some light from the moon, but when there is a "new" moon, the moon 'disappears' from the sky because it is between the earth and the sun with it's illuminated side facing away from us. Interesting that it will occur simultaneous with the first session of the LDS General Conference.

Starting a week ago at the Fall Equinox, we are rapidly losing more and more light each day. Unlike the solstices where it seems like the suns stays still, on the fall equinoxes the sun is rapidly moving across the sky and we are losing close to about 2 minutes of daylight every day. 

A few days ago I traveled down to the Black Canyon in Colorado. The canyon's name owes itself to the fact that parts of the gorge only receive 33 minutes of sunlight a day,  If you were to travel to the Black Canyon you would see some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. In the book, Images of America: The Black Canyon of the Gunnison the author Duane Vandenbusche states, "Several canyons of the American West are longer and some are deeper, but none combines the depth, sheerness, narrowness, darkness, and dread of the Black Canyon.

Here are a few photos taken a few days ago:

If you look closely you can see the river and the white rapids close to 2000 feet below. 

This is the ledge from where the first photo was taken. 

Despite the loss of light in the world and the ever increasing darkness that we face in our life, His light can always find a way to reach us. It is amazing how a little beam or flame or ray of light can light up a dark place. Even though the days are getting darker and darker rapidly, there are moments that the Sun with shine through whether through a break in the clouds just before sunset (for example this photo below taken on the edge of the Grand Mesa ) or......



....or in the earlier morning hours through a grove of trees as seen on a morning hike early on Sunday on the Grand Mesa.



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

382: HIGH ON A MOUNTAIN TOP



In my opinion, Colorado is one of the most beautiful States in our country. For the Fall Equinox, I was asked to tag along with a few others on a quick weekend trip into the mountains of Colorado.  We experienced both the beauty of Fall and the cold temperatures of Winter. We camped at the top of a plateau at around 10,500 feet in about 4-6 inches of snow with below freezing temperatures. It was an amazing experience.

I woke up very early on Sunday morning bundled up for the cold weather and headed out on a solitary hike. There are only a few places like the mountains were you can go to get away from the light pollution from the cities and see the reality of what the heavens above look like.  In order for me to capture the below photo, I needed to set my aperture (the space through which light enters into the camera) for a long exposure time. Once the opening of the camera is set to the largest setting and it will stay open for a long duration, one can get a glimpse into the heavens from the image that is captured. The same is true for us. We are not much different than a camera. When we open ourselves up (our aperture) through prayer and fasting for a longer duration of time (exposure) we can see and receive revelation and be in better contact with Heaven.




D&C 88: 7-12
This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made. And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
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Here are a few more photos taken on the past weekend trip:


Below photo of the "Swiss Alps of Colorado" taken from on top of the Grand Mesa. At the base of these majestic mountains are the cities of Ouray and Telluride.


Photo take from the western edge of the Grand Mesa near an old observation deck.



The last photos are of some of the many lakes we saw near where we camped.








Be Still and Know that I Am God.
Psalm 46:10

Thursday, September 22, 2016

381: FALL EQUINOX 2016



Fall Equinox starts on September 22, 2016 at 8:21 a.m here in Utah. Below is a photo that I just took up in the mountains. Despite everything starting to die, the gold leaves of the aspen are brilliant right now in the upper elevations of the mountains. There is an aspen tree grove called Pando in southern Utah  (Latin for "I spread") which is said to be the single largest living organism in the world because of the massive underground root system. While the grove of trees appear to be hundreds of single trees, they are united together because of the roots. In essence, the trees are of one heart and one mind. Zion.









Wednesday, September 21, 2016

380: ARE WE ROBBING THE POOR BECAUSE OF OUR FINE SANCTUARIES?


It is a marriage with the sacred and the secular. Quite the odd couple in my opinion.  Build a temple along with shopping malls and luxury apartments?

The Philadelphia Temple was dedicated a few days ago and if you can afford $2,500.00 dollars in rent each month you can live across the street and the Church can be your landlord. The Alexander is a newest high rise apartment structure that the Church has built and it is billed as a 'luxury' building complete with an indoor pool, exercise room and other amenities. A two-bedroom apartment will run about $2,500 per month, which is the going rate for such in the neighborhood now. The first two stories will feature shops such as boutiques and bakeries, drugstores and dry cleaners. It looks a lot like City Creek 2.0.

Architecture Rendering



Here is a 3D model animation of the Temple and the High Rise Building that will house shopping and luxury apartments.




Above is a photo of President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, crossing the street near the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple on September 17, 2016. Instead of playing a Mormon Monopoly game,  why aren't we housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

379: DOES THE DIRECTION WE ARE FACING MATTER?

According to scripture, at the Second Coming the Savior will come from the east (see Matthew 24:27). The Church’s guideline concerning placement of the angel Moroni figures is that where possible, they should face eastward.

Below is a photo of the Meridian Temple in Idaho that is currently under construction. On a recent trip to Idaho, we drove past it to see the progress. Angel Moroni has now been set in place on top of the Temple. I was surprised to see that Moroni is facing South with his trump pointing directly Southwest. The decision for the new orientation is for athetics so it aligns with the front entrance to the Temple. (see below the information on Angel Moroni that is posted in the Visitors Center)





This is not the first time that the orientation of Angel Moroni has been altered. Originally, the figure on the Los Angeles Temple was placed facing southwest, the same direction the temple faced, but the figure’s orientation was adjusted to face due east upon instructions from President David O. McKay.
I wonder if we eventually see the same adjustment made to the Meridian Temple.


NEXT BLOG POST WILL BE ABOUT THIS:
 Another City Creek?
PHILADELPHIA TEMPLE



Friday, September 16, 2016

378: TABLE ROCK HIKE IN BOISE, IDAHO

Last week, a group of 24 of us hiked in the early morning hours to the top of Table Rock.  Table Rock is a mountain pillar located just south-east of downtown Boise, Idaho. This beautiful natural rock was sacred to the Northern Shoshone tribe, who used the high plateau as a ceremonial meeting place. In 1959, an illuminated 60 foot cross was erected that stands on top of Table Rock. The cross can be seen from the entire valley and serves as a beacon and a symbol of “faith, moral values and integrity” for those who live in Boise.

Shortly after midnight on June 30, 2016 a fire erupted on Table Rock burning everything around the entire mountain destroying over 2,500 acres. Below is photo and video of the fire. You can see how quickly the fire spread by watching the entire video.






The trailhead begins at the Old Penitentiary, a historic jail that sits at base of the mountain. This prison held Idaho's most notorious criminals but is not longer in use. We meet there around 6:00 AM. and had prayer before we began our ascent. It was still very dark but we could see the illuminated cross as it glows brightly in the early morning hours before sunrise. 


Before the sunrise, we reached the west end of Table Rock summit. We looked over the city as well as the graffiti which was previously left by others how have little respect for nature.  Instead of staying on the west side where the cross is located, we turned around and hiked to the opposite side of Table Rock to face the sun before it rose. There on the east end is a living tree that was not burned by the fire. We gathered together, prayed and sang hymns.



We waited individually for the sun to come up as a new day began. While it looked imminent that the sun was about to rise, it took longer than expected, but we patiently waited.

The sun in all it brilliance, warmth and glory rose from the dark and black mountains. I saw a large cottontail scurry past me, a reminder of rebirth, and a symbol of Easter when we observe the Risen Lord from the grave. It is no coincidence that on the west side (representing death, the world etc stand the 60 foot cross and on the east side was signs of new life, a beautiful living tree and a cottontail. 





Descending the mountain with sun now up, we could see the burned and scorched trees and bushed. However, at the base of the once living plants, is new growth. Such is the cycle of life not only in the physical world but spiritually as well. 







Additional Photos: The burned landscape around the Table Rock in Boise Idaho.


 This is taken from within the Old Penitentiary Building. Despite it being a prison, they have tried to beautify the area. If you look close through the center window of the rock wall  you can see the cross on top of Table Rock. Below is a zoomed up photo.


If you look closely, you can see people on top of Table Rock near the 60 foot cross.



While these photos might not mean alot to others, it has alot of significance for me. I experienced them prior to a talk that was given that the speaker shared the following experience:

"I recently had a vision that began as a dream. In it I was traveling in a small car up a mountain road. The road was steep, but straight, and it grew steeper as it climbed upward. On the left side of the road there was a railroad track running parallel. As we drove the small car upward, I noticed a sharp bend in the railroad tracks ahead that interrupted the otherwise straight course of the line. I saw a train approaching from uphill in the distance coming downhill rapidly, and it seemed to be going far too fast to safely negotiate the sharp bend in the tracks. The small car we drove was not quite to the bend when the rushing train hit the bend, leapt from the tracks and violently crashed in front of us. Our little car narrowly escaped a collision, as the train’s wreckage spread about. As the small car continued upward, the train crash worsened, at first beside the car, and then as we accelerated, closely behind us. The little car got ahead of the continuing wreck of the moving train, and I could see the train was full of passengers who, uphill from the wreckage, were enjoying themselves. They were paying no attention to the disaster already befalling their train. We began to shout out the windows of our car, trying to warn the occupants in the doomed train, but they gave no heed. They laughed and partied aboard the train with no concern for their impending destruction. I could see the wreckage behind me in the mirror as the violence of the wreck threw shattered railcars about, some onto the road behind us, making the road now impassable. We  were powerless to save those aboard the train because they would not hear the warnings we shouted to them. As we reached the top of the mountain, the last of the train went by, and I stopped the little car. We got out and stood in the roadway looking down the mountain and watched as the last of the train was destroyed. While mourning over the many lives that had been lost, I awoke from the dream and sat up on my bed, but the vision continued. I next saw in the distance, beyond the wreckage, an overpowering flood, as if it was a great fire, consuming and destroying all the country coming from the east. Although we had survived the train wreck, it appeared certain we would all be killed in the coming flood. I looked about for any sign of hope we might survive, and noticed beside the roadway a great rock with an opening. I led the small party to the rock and discovered the opening was for a cavern that went upward within the shelter of the rock. We entered the cave, and climbed upward. Inside the cavity of the rock, our small group waited as the flood approached, unsure whether we would live or die. The noise of the destruction outside was deafening as the flood approached, and then the opening of the cavern went black and we were left in complete silence and darkness. We waited. In a few moments the light returned but silence remained. After a few more moments our small group emerged from the rock’s cavern to see what had transpired with the world. The scene of destruction was astounding. The entire landscape was transformed. It was destroyed. The wrecked train, the tracks and the road had all been consumed. Everything appeared barren. Then suddenly new life began to spring forth in the widespread desolation. Barren trunks brought out new limbs, blossoms and leaves. Flowers sprang from the earth. As we watched, the earth was quickly transformed, and in a short time the denuded desolation was full of life, beauty and fertility much greater than before the flood of  fire had destroyed the landscape."
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I experience and saw the remains of an all encompassing fire, I climbed to the top of mountain. I saw through a small opening of a rock area the symbol of Christ. I saw the barren trunk of trees bringing  forth new life. I was amazing to not only hear the above dream/vision on Sunday. but to personally see and experience alot of these important symbols on this hike the day before. 

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Sidenote Addendum : 
Within a month of the iconic Table Rock mountain in Boise catching on fire, 
Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City which is our iconic mountain also caught on fire. I find it interesting that both cities with iconic and religious  monuments at top would both burn in the same summer all within about a month of each other.