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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

39: THEIR TREASURE IS THEIR GOD

"...and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god.
And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also."
II Nephi 9:30

The cover of the pamphlet for the exhibit and the inside photograph of the celebration when the statue of Brigham Young was unveiled.
Some have made the observation that B.Y.'s back is toward the temple
 and his right arm outstretched toward Zion's Bank.


Church History Library
"TREASURES OF THE COLLECTION".
Church Cultural Celebrations

In case there are some going to General Conference this weekend, and they are looking for things to do and would prefer to not go to City Creek Center, you can go see the new exhibit at The Church History Library.  The new church collection on display is called: "Treasures of the Collection".  There are 12 exhibits to see. Here are the names of each of the exhibits:

Exhibit 1: Celebrations
Exhibit 2: Balls and Festivals
Exhibit 3: Youth Organizations Activities
Exhibit 4: New York Worlds's Fair
Exhibit 5: Day's of 47
Exhibit 6: Hill Cumorah Pageant
Exhibit 7: Missionary Sports
Exhibit 8: Church Sports- Basketball
Exhibit 9: Church Sports- Softball
Exhibit 10: Helsinki Summer Games
Exhibit 11: Salt Lake Olympic Games
Exhibit 12: Cultural Participation in the Winter Games

In the first exhibit it shows the celebration of the unveiling of the Brigham Young Monument. Fifty years after the first pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, a jubilee celebration was held July 20-24, 1897. The unveiling of the Brigham Young monument, parades, concerts, sports activities, commemorative programs, exhibitions, and fireworks were all part of the program. Each of the surviving pioneers was presented with a special commemorative badge as an insignia of honor. The badge was designed by Tiffany & Company of New York (Tiffany & Company just opened a new store in City Creek)

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I have been reading the book, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. In the book it lists several of our modern idols.
  • Worldly Images
  • Organized Sports
  • Human Idols
  • Imaginations of the Heart
  • Mammon
  • Babylon
  • the Arm of the Flesh
  • Elitism
  • Pollution of the Temple

Here is one excerpt:

"In pointing to parallels of idolatry between the Lord's people anciently and today, we must not presume that people worship only false gods. Among the Lord's people, worship of the true God is rarely done away. Rather , they often worship the true God alongside the false gods. They maintain a careful equilibrium in order to preserve an identity with the God of Israel. At the same time, the people follow their own gods as they please. This compromise enables people to satisfy both their carnal instincts and their spiritual aspirations.

In some instances of idolatry, worship of the true God and the false gods becomes fused. Then the concept of the true God gets distorted, while the false gods assume the authenticity and endorsement that belongs to the true God. Of all idolatry, the Lords finds such syncretism most intolerable. It epitomizes the idea of "philosophies of men mingled with scripture". Things incongruent with true worship thereby acquire an aura of sanctity. For the Lord's people, syncretism lies but one step away from severing spiritual roots. In forms the final stage of apostasy before the Lord brings judgement."

SYNCRETISM: is the combining of different (often contradictory) beliefs.
(example combining Babylon with Zion)

....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

38: MINGLING OF FUNDS at the CHURCH'S SOLE DISCRETION

One of my friends brought this to my attention about a month ago. I had to see if for myself before I posted anything about it. This is a scanned image of the tithing form we recieved this Sunday from the Young Men in our ward collecting Fast Offerings. It is a new form. No longer is it listed to donate to:
  • Temple construction
  • Perpetual education fund
  • Book of Mormon
I wonder if the Perpetual education fund as been disbanded and I am curious why contributions to Temple construction is no longer listed.

Oh, and you also are to put your Membership Record Number instead of your address.


But probably the most interesting change is the fine print. It says:

"Though reasonable efforts will be made globally to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission."

What does "reasonable efforts will be made" mean? Who determine's where it goes? Why wouldn't my donation be honored to the fullest in where I allocated my money? Why even list other categories to donate to if only reasonable efforts will be made?

So if I am reading this correctly, if I donate to the humanitarian aid...I am not guaranteed that it will go to help those in need. My money could end up being used for church building projects... or maybe used to beautify sacred surrounding areas of a Temple. Sounds like the money I designate as a faithful and active Latter-day Saint might get mingled into one large sum of money for the leaders to use where they see fit, and not where I would like to see it go. I am sure they know better than me where the money should go. No need to question, because we are promised that they can't be led astray.

Sidenote: I think this is important to point out:

The Church's Provident Living website has listed the combined total about of money given for the past 25 years (1985–2010) to Humanitarian aid of food, clothing, medical supplies,etc.given to the poor and needy in over 178 countries.

From the website:
  • Humanitarian assistance rendered  $1.3 billion
  • Countries and territories served 178
  • Food 63,377 tons
  • Medical supplies 14,345 tons
  • Clothing 93,196 tons
  • Hygiene, newborn, and school kits 11.1 million

 1.3 billion  in over 25 years?. Some would say that is wonderful. We are a generous people that help the poor and the needy. That is roughly 52 million dollars a year.

However, when you compare that to the 5,000,000,000.00 dollars that we have spend on one shopping mall, luxurious condominums, and office buildings in an already affluent city... it makes you wonder what we love more. I think the Book of Mormon foresaw that we would love more.
"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."

So, it is not that we don't love the poor and the needy, ..  we do! But what do we love MORE? If you take the dollar amount totals as an indication on what is percieved as  more important, (Humanitarian versus the City Creek Center project) it looks like is would be the City Creek Center almost 4 to1.

We commonly attribute in the above scripture as Moroni referring to other religions.. but looking at this more closing, it might be referring to us.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

37: BUY ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD FOR MONEY

Here is what a billion dollars looks like:

1,000,000,000.00

Now.. add another
1,000,000,000.00

and another
1,000,000,000.00

and while we are at it,... lets throw in another
1,000,000,000.00

and just one more 
1,000,000,000.00


It was reported on KSL, the church's owned media outlet,  that the entire downtown project including the City Creek Center will ultimately cost upwards 5 BILLION. The shopping mall called City Creek Center was just a portion of the cost (reported at costing 1.5 BILLION)  http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=19428181&title=a-look-inside-as-city-creek-centers-completion-nears&s_cid=featured-1


Here is what was reported in yesterday's LDS Church News:

"The First Presidency participated in Thursday's ceremonial ribbon cutting at City Creek Center, signaling the long-awaited opening of Salt Lake City's newest mall."

"President Eyring spoke on behalf of the Church at Thursday's ceremony, saying City Creek is now open to invite the world to come to downtown Salt Lake City — headquarters of the Church."

"Earlier, Bishop H. David Burton added that it's vital to create an atmosphere in Salt Lake City that people like and remember. "Because Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, it's important that it is 'dressed appropriately.'" http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/62153/First-Presidency-attends-City-Creek-opening.html



I was able to attend the dedication and red ribbon ceremony of the City Creek Center. It ended with a bang..complete with fireworks and even shiny "glitter" raining down on the festivities.  It is a surreal experience to know that what you are witnessing first hand was actually seen over a thousand of years earlier and recorded for us to read today.  I didn't need to see in vision what Jesus Christ showed Moroni.. we are living it.

We read in Mormon 8:

"Behold, 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.

And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not life themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.

 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.

O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God?"
.............................................................................

Other "beautiful" cites:
Below is a screenshot from a highly anticipated movie that premiered on the same day as the Red Ribbon cutting ceremony of the LDS City Creek Creek Shopping Center. I thought the city portrayed in the movie looked somewhat similiar to Salt Lake because of the mountains and the beautiful architecture of the buildings.  The city in the movie is called simply 'The Capital.' It is a highly advanced metropolis, holding absolute power.


The word decadence is characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence.  However, the root word of decadence is 'decadentia' which means "decay," or "in a state of decline or decay."

It might just be me.. but it doesn't see to bother very many of the  LDS Saints that the Church has spend Billions of dollars to build a shopping center which sells $100,000.00 dollars watches at the new Rolex store or $250,000.00 dollars necklaces sold at Tiffiany's.

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FAIR's Apologetic response to those who are critical of the City Creek project

"Some have insisted that funds would be better if directed to charitable works such as feeding the poor. The Church does have an extensive humanitarian effort. Critics on this point often overlook the fact that Church funds are best managed not by sitting in a bank account, but through prudent investment. Investment in land and real estate development is often a wise and ultimately profitable investment approach It is entirely possible that the City Creek Center Mall will eventually become a money making venture, as the Church collects rent from mall merchants. This investment strategy would allow the Church to, over time, recoup its initial outlay or even make money that could be further dedicated to the Church's religious and humanitarian goals

Critics also overlook the fact that if money is spent to feed the needy, that money is gone . On the other hand, if the Church reinvests in Salt Lake City's downtown core, this provides jobs and economic stimulus, for example, via construction and then the service-industry jobs which will fill the mall upon its completion. While providing fewer short term gains, this long term "teach a man to fish" strategy could ultimately benefit many more people, by allowing them to "help themselves".

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Sidenote:

Many didn't know this, but this past weekend just north of Salt Lake, The World Championships in Chariot Racing was held at the Golden Spike Events Center racetrack. Who would have ever thought that Roman chariot races would make a comeback today-- just like their immense popularity and the pleasure they gave the Roman people.

Rome did rise.. but eventually fell.

There is not just one single factors that led to the Fall of Rome, but decadence, pride, and extravagent living help contribute to the Fall of Rome.

The Roman Empire still looked good. Large, rich, with all the appurtenances of power, but it was decaying. The Romans destroyed themselves from within.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

36: Dignitaries at the Red Ribbon Ceremony for CITY CREEK CENTER

President Monson followed by Eyring and Uchtdorf to the Red Ribbon Ceremony
on March 22, 2012
(the beginning day of the Nisan on the Jewish Calendar which starts this evening)

All of the Key Political, Economic, Religious and Financial Leaders.
All necessary elements for "success" in the world.


 As the clock approached 10 a.m., after all of the speakers, including President Eyring, ended the dedication ceremony, the time had come to pull the ceremonial ribbon.
On the count of "one, two, three," all of the dignitaries shouted in praise 
 "Let's go shopping!"
At long last, City Creek Center was officially a reality.

I will write more shortly

35: CITY CREEK CENTER GALA and the WORD OF WISDOM

Last night, a lucky few made a charitable donation to get a sneak preview before the official grand opening of the LDS City Creek Center today. Exactly 2,000 people paid for the privilege to be the first patrons at downtown's most high-profile mixed-use development. Tickets cost 50.00. Dress attire was formal and you had to be an adult (over 21) because beer and wine were served in certain areas of the new mall.

I did not purchase a ticket.. but was given one by a hostess. Here are a few pictures from the evening.   A temple recommend would not get you in to the event, but it could have been taken away if you partook of the things that were offered.
  
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The below picture is at the entrance to the City Creek Center.
The sign to the left in small print says:

TONIGHT ONLY!
6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
CLUB CITY CREEK

ENJOY BEER, WINE, SOFT DRINKS,
and hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and COFFEE.

Level one, Nordstrom block, south of the fountains.



The above picture is of a lady handing me a drink. Don't worry though, it is Apple Beer. I think this substitute drink was offered to those who wanted to look like the rest but could still answer the temple recommend questions with the correct answer. 

Sidenote: I wonder who Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 28. .

"The crown of pride,  the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet."

"But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment."

We don't talk much about these verses in Gospel Doctrine class. We have the promise that we can't  be led astray by our leaders. They could never err in vision, nor would they stumble in judgement.. Obviously Isaiah must be referring to a different religion who have priests and a prophet....and not us.


Friday, March 16, 2012

33: SPRING EQUINOX, FULL MOON, PASSOVER and EASTER in 2012

Here are some thoughts about the upcoming days that I think are very important. (Please see below the calendar with some information on attending a Passover Meal with Avraham Gileadi in junction with the Isaiah Institute.)

Next week is the Spring Equinox. It is my opinion that this year is really an important year since many of the dates with Jewish and Christian traditions (the Passover/Crucifixion, the Full/New Moon, the Triumphal entry on Monday and Easter (Resurrection) and First Fruits on Sunday. I also think it is symbolic that Easter this year is on the April 8th. The number 8 which is a renewal, rebirth and new beginning.  

Just a quick observation that came to mind when creating this calendar.  The Jewish calendar uses the new moon to set their Holy Days.  The new moon is not visible in the sky even though it is there. The Christians use the full moon to set the holy day of Easter. The Full moon is visible, fully present in the sky. I think the new and full moons are symbolic for the unseen Messiah for the Jews (new moon), and the seen and visible Messiah for the Christian (full moon).




A great way to observe the Passover:
Everyone observes this time of year usually with family. Most probably have never even participated in a Passover meal. It you are interested, Avraham Gileadi in conjunction with the Isaiah Institute are putting together their sixth annual Passover dinner. It would be a great way to celebrate the  Easter weekend,  a season of renewal and to acknowledge our Savior as the Lamb of God. You can learn about the Jewish Passover and its rich symbolism from an LDS perspective and why it is meaningful today as a type of things to come.  It will be held Saturday, 7th April 2012, 6:30–8:30 p.m., For more information you can go here: http://josephandjudah.com/

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Sidenote:  The following is written by my cousin and good friend John Pratt. It is an excerpt from an article he wrote in the 1985 July Ensign

 
The Passover feast centered on the paschal lamb, which was a sacrificial lamb, a male without blemish and with no broken bone, even after death. Likewise, Jesus was the "Passover," the "Lamb of God" , a male without blemish and with no broken bone, even after death (John 19:36).

The Passover lamb was to be chosen on the 10 Nisan, the tenth day of the Jewish lunar month Nisan. It was to be killed by "the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel" on 14 Nisan, which was usually the day of the first full moon of spring. Jewish sources state that the lamb was sacrificed between 3:00 and 5:00 P.M. on that day.[3]

Jesus, too, was "chosen" on 10 Nisan at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when he was hailed as the Messiah which had been prophesied by Zechariah. The multitude who had assembled in Jerusalem for Passover later consented to his death when they "all" cried out on 14 Nisan, "Let him be crucified.". The Lamb of God died about 3:00 P.M. on the day of preparation for Passover, 14 Nisan, just when the paschal lambs were also being slain.

Of course, at the triumphal entry the multitude did not understand that they were choosing the Lamb of God to sacrifice, but believed they were choosing a king whom they expected to liberate them from Roman rule. And at the Crucifixion they were unaware that they were sacrificing the Lamb of God, but believed they were slaying an imposter who could not even save his own life.

The preparation of the lamb for the feast had to be hurriedly completed before sunset, after which would begin the first day of Passover, 15 Nisan, a day sanctified as a special Sabbath day. After sunset, the lamb was eaten with bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and wine. This ritualized Passover meal was also called the feast of unleavened bread; it began a week in which no leavened bread was eaten, symbolic of the haste of preparation which did not allow enough time for bread dough to rise.

Likewise, the body of Jesus had to be hurriedly prepared for burial before the sunset would commence the Sabbath, which would be a "high day"  because it was not only Saturday, the weekly Sabbath, but also 15 Nisan, the first day of Passover. It was on 15 Nisan, after the slaying of the first-born, that Pharaoh declared liberty to the captive Israelites. After their long period of bondage in Egypt, it must have been a day of great rejoicing. One reason that 15 Nisan was sanctified as an annual feast day was to commemorate that day on which the Lord brought Israel out of bondage and released them from the chains of slavery.

Similarly, on 15 Nisan A.D. 33, the Passover feast day, the Savior declared liberty to the captives in the spirit prison after their long period of bondage.  Before the Savior arrived, they had been "assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death." In fact, they were already "rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death." The fact that they were assembled, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance, suggests that they expected his arrival on the Passover feast day, the day of liberation.

The law of Moses states that "on the morrow after the Sabbath" of Passover, the priest should wave before the Lord a sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest. On Easter Sunday, 16 Nisan, the morning after the Jewish Sabbath, the Savior, through his resurrection, became "the firstfruits of them that slept."  Jesus had already taught that he was like a kernel of grain which must abide alone until it dies in the ground, whereupon it can bring forth much fruit. Lehi also explained that the Savior, "being the first that should rise . . . is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved."

Thus, the carefully prescribed elements of the Passover ceremony precisely foreshadowed both the events of the Atonement and the time each would occur. The annual sacrifice of the paschal lamb on 14 Nisan was not only in remembrance of the Israelites' having been saved by the blood of the lamb on the houses in Egypt. it was also anticipating the 14 Nisan when the great sacrifice of the Lamb of God would occur. The feast on 15 Nisan celebrated not only the liberation of the captives of Egypt; that day would also be the time of even more rejoicing when the Savior would declare liberation to the captives in the spirit prison. And the third day, 16 Nisan, was not only the time when the firstfruits of the harvest of barley were presented to the Lord, it was also the glorious day of the Resurrection­the firstfruits of the harvest of souls.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

32: BEHOLD THERE ARE SAVE TWO CHURCHES ONLY

“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God,
and the other is the church of the devil;
wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church,
which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
Nephi 14:10
Which church do you belong to?

I took the below photos today of some of the advertisements being used for next week’s  Grand Opening of the LDS Church’s City Creek Center. Enormous photographic ads have been blown up to cover entire buildings.  Slogans such as GO FOR IT, MAKE IT, DISCOVER IT are cleverly intertwined with the City Creek Center name. Many of you know that I have been critical of the billions spent on what I consider the great and spacious shopping center. Many have accused me of being too critical of the Church and their use of money.  They make apologies for those in charge as they are trying to beautify the surrounding areas of the temple. So my question is this. Are we really beautifying the Temple surroundings or actually distracting from it?
Here are a few of the images:
·         An attractive “Angelia Jolie” like woman showing her slender leg sporting stiletto heels.
·         A glamorous woman in a low cut black evening gown holding a glass of wine/champagne, (not to mention that the low cut dress is not “garment friendly”)
·         Large “building-sized” images of men who look like characters from the book Twilight (which used to be one of Deseret books best selling books).

If you were hoping to be one of the first to shop at City Creek Center, you will need to buy a ticket for $50.00 to attend the City Creek Center Charity Preview Gala which is the night before the red ribbon ceremony. However, I heard the tickets are all sold out.  Sounds like it will be quite the party since this is what is being offered:

·         Continuous Entertainment 
·         Food and Refreshments throughout the Center 
·         Access to the Hospitality Suite with music, Hors d' oeuvres, and Beer and Wine 
·         Shopping throughout the evening 

Did I read that correctly?… Beer and Wine? (Well you can’t accuse City Creek of false advertising, since the woman IS holding a glass of wine.) Here is the link to more information on the Charity Gala:  http://shopcitycreekcenter.com/events

In a few weeks, we will have our World Wide General Conference. We have come a long way since the early days of the Church. Yes, we can say, “ We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee.” That same phrase is used in the Book of Mormon. Here is the entire verse found in Alma 31: 27-28

“Behold, O God, they cry unto thee, and yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride. Behold, O God, they cry unto thee with their mouths, while they are puffed up, even to greatness, with the vain things of the world.
Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee while others shall perish.”

It is not hard to see similarities to us today to the prideful Nephites in the Book of Mormon prior to their destruction. If a Samuel the Lamanite figure climbed on top of the wall surrounding the Salt Lake Temple and preached repentance and exposed our worldly ways.. would we also shoot arrows at him?  


Side note:
Last Friday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was honored by the Salt Lake Chamber for the City Creek Development. President Uchtdorf  and Bishop Burton both received and accepted the awards. One of the awards was a small statue of Brigham Young. Here is a link.

Friday, March 2, 2012

31: REACTIONARY VS. REVELATORY

Revelation: Truth given to man by a divine God. It is progressive.
Reactionary: An opinion or action given in response to a situation or another man actions. It is regressive.
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We sometimes use the term ‘revelation’ with the word receiving ‘prophesy’. The verb "prophesy" means "to speak before" (from Greek pro, before, and phemi, to speak). The spirit of prophesy is also meant in having the testimony of Christ. This gift includes both the idea of foretelling and forthtelling, predicting the future and preaching truth. A prophet is God's mouthpiece, he speaks for God and gives His message. Sometimes this message is regarding the future...other times it concerns the present, even the past, or simply doctrinal truth, but it was always God's message spoken forth.
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Right now the Church seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place on how to deal with new light being shed on past “reactionary” church statements that were taught as “revelation”. I recently became aware of two Religion teachers, one a BYU professor and the other a CES seminary principle who have made public statements and/or interviews regarding our past church history which does not mesh with Church Correlation.
.
It is my feeling that we are approaching some very interesting times ahead of us.. as a country and as a church. I am currently taking a microbiology class. In that class, I have received insight from studying the smallest of things. We have been learning about the life cycle of living cells, bacteria and viruses. I made the below chart of the Four Phases of Cell Growth for Bacteria.
  • First phase: Initial growth (slow at first) It is a new beginning. Truth is revealed and established.
  • Second phase: Growth multiplies exponentially. The nutrients and environment for growth are in abundance.
  • Third phase: The growth phase slows as a result of nutrient depletion and accumulation of toxic products .
  • Fourth phase: Growth diminished and death occurs due to lack of nutrition and build up of toxic waste.
 
I see the similarities to what has happened in our country and the church as an institution. The Church, according to their stats, is growing at a much slower pace today than it has over the last 30 years. The indicators include much slower membership growth, a decline in conversions, a decline in conversions for each missionary, and a lack of retention. Many are leaving the church. Just like the four phases of cells growth, once there is lack of nutrition and a build of toxicity, cells diminish, and die off. The key is to find the nutrition from an never ending source and avoid the toxic waste material in order to continue to live in an uninhabitable environment.