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Monday, December 21, 2015

347: WINTER SOLSTICE: "SUNTURN" or THE RETURN OF LIGHT

The day before Joseph Smith was born was the twenty second of December. That day is called the “Winter Solstice” otherwise known as the “shortest day” of the year. Out of 365 days, that day has the least amount of light which makes it the “darkest of days.” The dawning of day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of brighter days. That day is a symbol of new beginnings and greater light.

The term 'solstice' derives from the Latin word 'solstitium', meaning 'Sun standing still'.

On this day the Sun seems to stand still and its southernmost position as seen from the Earth and then reverses its direction moving northward.  Some prefer to use  term 'sunturn' to describe the event.


 
 
 



Sidenote:
The Feast of Juul (or Yule) was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice.

People would light fires to symbolize the heat and light of the returning sun and a Juul (or Yule) log was brought in and burned in the fireplace.  The Yule Log often was an entire tree, carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony and sometimes, the largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth, while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room.

The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year's log which had been carefully stored away and often slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Tradition dictated that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands.



Thursday, December 17, 2015

346: RACISM

 Racism and the past ban on priesthood for blacks is one of major controversial issues that the LDS Church has faced. The Church has released statements as well as an essay with the hope of  distancing itself from the highly racist statements made by early Church leaders. Even though the ban was lifted in late 70's, many members of the church have wondered how exactly how the revelation occured to finally grant the opportunity for blacks to recieve the priesthood.


 


The Deseret News published a letter on June 9, 1978 declaring that a revelation had been received by Prophet Spencer W Kimball lifting the ban on black men receiving the Priesthood. The BYU newspaper, the Daily Universe also published an article with the headline: BLACKS GET PRIESTHOOD: GOD REVEALS NEW POLICY TO LDS PROPHET.  But did God actually reveal this this to President Kimball? How did it really happen?

Recently, a transcript and audio of an interview with LeGrand Richards has been released. It sheds more light on how exactly the policy change/revelation occured. If interested here is a portion of the transcript. The interviewers last name is Walters. (but not to be confused with Barbara Walters)

WALTERS: On this revelation, of the priesthood to the Negro, I’ve heard all kinds of stories: I’ve heard that Christ appeared to the Apostles. I’ve heard that Joseph Smith appeared; and then I heard another story that Spencer Kimball had had a concern about this for some time and simply shared it with the apostles, and they decided that this was the right time to move in that direction. Now are any of those stories true, or are they all…

RICHARDS: Well, the last one is pretty true, and I might tell you what provoked it in a way. Down in Brazil, there is so much Negro blood in the population there that it’s hard to get leaders that don’t have Negro blood in them. We just built a temple down there. It’s going to be dedicated in October. All those people with Negro blood in them have been raising the money to build that temple. And then, if we don’t change, then they can’t even use it. So Brother Kimball worried about it, and he prayed a lot about it.

He asked each one of us of the Twelve if we would pray – and we did – that the Lord would give him the inspiration to know what the will of the Lord was. And then he invited each one of us in his office – individually, because you know when you are in a group, you can’t always express everything that’s in your heart. You’re part of the group, you see – so he interviewed each one of us, personally, to see how we felt about it, and he asked us to pray about it. And then he asked each one of us to hand in all the references we had, for, or against that proposal. See, he was thinking favorably toward giving the colored people the priesthood.
Then we had a meeting where we meet every week in the temple, and we discussed it as a group together, and then we prayed about it in our prayer circle, and then we held another prayer circle after the close of that meeting, and he (President Kimball) lead in the prayer; praying that the Lord would give us the inspiration that we needed to do the thing that would be pleasing to Him and for the blessing of His children. And then the next Thursday – we meet every Thursday – the Presidency came with this little document written out to make the announcement – to see how we’d feel about it – and present it in written form. Well, some of the members of the Twelve suggested a few changes in the announcement, and then in our meeting there we all voted in favor of it – the Twelve and the Presidency. One member of the Twelve, Mark Petersen, was down in South America, but Brother Benson, our President, had arranged to know where he could be reached by phone, and right while we were in that meeting in the temple, Brother Kimball talked with Brother Petersen, and read him this article, and he (Petersen) approved of it.

WALTERS: What was the date? Would that have been the first of June, or something?

RICHARDS: That was the first Thursday, I think, in May. [June?] At least that’s about when it was. And then after we all voted in favor of it, we called another meeting for the next morning, Friday morning, at seven o’clock, of all the other General Authorities – that includes the Seventies’ Quorum and the Patriarch and the Presiding Bishopric, and it was presented to them, and they all had an opportunity to express themselves and then there were a few of the brethren that were out presiding in the missions, and so the Twelve were appointed to interview each one of them. I had to interview Brother Rex Reeve and read him the article and asked his feelings. He was thrilled because he labored down there in Brazil and he knew what it would mean for those people. And so every member of the General Authorities, to a man, approved it before the announcement went out.
Now we had a letter from a colored man up in Ogden, read like this; he was a member of the church, and he said “If the Lord is willing to let me have my wife and children in this life, why wouldn’t He be willing to let me have them in the next life?” That makes sense, doesn’t it?

And then, you know, the Lord gave revelation to Prophet Joseph where He said that “There is a law irrevocably decreed in the heavens before the foundation of the Earth was laid upon which all blessings are predicated and no blessing can be obtained except by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.” Well all that means is that if you want to raise wheat you’ve got to plant wheat, doesn’t it? If you want corn then you’ve got to plant corn. Well if I plant wheat and get a harvest and the colored man plants wheat and takes a good care of it – why isn’t he as much entitled to the harvest as I, you see?
And then, um, [untelligible] and so.

WALTERS: Well I was going to ask you about
RICHARDS: So we figured the same with spiritual blessings. If the colored man lives as good as I do, he can serve the Lord and so forth, why isn’t he as much entitled to the blessings as I am? It’s been a united decision, there’s been no adverse comment by anyone of the General Authorities.
VLACHOS: What about intermarriage? Is it okay?
RICHARDS: what?
VLACHOS: Is it okay to marry?
WALTERS: Intermarriage, is that in view too?
RICHARDS: Well, no. Never before this decision was reached we’ve always recommended that people live within their own race – the Japanese ought to marry Japanese, the Chinese ought to marry Chinese, Hawaiians ought to marry Hawaiians and the colored people ought to marry colored.
WALTERS: And that would still be your position?
RICHARDS:: That is still our position. But they are entitled to the temple blessings and the sealing of their wives to them. It’s all conditioned on their living. Now if they live right and they’re devoted and they’re good clean living – why shouldn’t they get the blessings?
WALTERS: Now when President Kimball read this little announcement or paper, was that the same thing that was released to the press?
RICHARDS: Yeah.
WALTERS: There wasn’t a special document as a “revelation”, that he had and wrote down?
RICHARDS: We discussed it in our meeting. What else should we say besides that announcement? And we decided that was sufficient; that no more needed to be said.
WALTERS: Was that the letter you sent out to the various wards?
RICHARDS: And to the Church; and to the newspapers, yes.
VLACHOS: Will that become a part of “scripture”?
RICHARDS: Yes, I’ve already thought in my own mind of suggesting we add it to the Pearl of Great Price, just like those last two revelations that we’ve just added.
WALTERS: At that point, is there a special reason why you add it to the Pearl of Great Price rather than to the Doctrine and Covenants? Is it just more convenient to put it in there instead of adding another number or something?
RICHARDS:: I don’t know, we didn’t discuss the reason, which book it should go in, but the Pearl of Great Price was written and assembled later than the Doctrine and Covenants was and my Grandfather was one that organized the Pearl of Great Price. So when we discussed it in our meeting, we didn’t discuss whether it should go in the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price. We just discussed how to add those two revelations to the Pearl of Great Price.
WALTERS: Will this affect your theological thinking about the Negro as being less valiant in the previous existence? How does this relate? Have you thought that through?
RICHARDS: Some time ago, the Brethren decided that we should never say that. We don’t know just what the reason was. Paul said, “The Lord hath before appointed the bounds of the habitations of all men for to dwell upon the face of the earth,” and so He determined that before we were born. He who knows why they were born with black skin or white and so on and so forth. We’ll just have to wait and find out.
WALTERS: Is there still a tendency to feel that people are born with black skin because of some previous situation, or do we consider that black skin is no sign anymore of anything inferior in any sense of the word?
RICHARDS: Well, we don’t want to get that as a doctrine. Think of it as you will. You know, Paul said “Now we see in part and we know in part; we see through a glass darkly. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away, then we will see as we are seen, and know as we are known.” Now the Church’s attitude today is to prefer to leave it until we know. The Lord has never indicated that black skin came because of being less faithful. Now, the Indian; we know why he was changed, don’t we? The Book of Mormon tells us that; and he has a dark skin, but he has a promise there that through faithfulness, that shall again become a white and delightsome people. So we haven’t anything like that on the colored thing.
WALTERS: Now, with this new revelation – has it brought any new insights or new ways of looking at the Book of Abraham? Because I think traditionally it is thought of the curse of Cain, coming through Canaanites and on the black-skinned people, and therefore denying the priesthood?
RICHARDS: We considered that with all the “for’s” and the “against’s” and decided that with all of that, if they lived their lives, and did the work, that they were entitled to their blessings.
WALTERS: But you haven’t come up with any new understanding of the Book of Abraham? I just wondered whether there would be a shift in that direction.
VLACHOS: Is the recent revelation in harmony with what the past prophets have taught, of when the Negro would receive the priesthood?
RICHARDS: Well, they have held out the thought that they would ultimately get the priesthood, but they never determined the time for it. And so when this situation that we face down there in Brazil – Brother Kimball worried a lot about it – how the people are so faithful and devoted. The president of the Relief Society of the stake is a colored woman down there in one of the stakes. If they do the work, why it seems like that the justice of the Lord would approve of giving them the blessing. Now it’s all conditional upon the life that they live, isn’t it?
WALTERS: Well, I thank you for clarifying that for me, because you know, out in the streets out there, there must be at least five, ten different stories about the way this happened.
RICHARDS: Well, I’ve told you exactly what happened.
WALTERS: Right. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
RICHARDS: If you quote me why you will be telling the truth.
WALTERS: Ok, well fine. You don’t mind if we quote you then?
RICHARDS: No.
WALTERS: Ok, that’s great!


..................................

A friend of mine sent me the following thoughtful email regarding racism. I always appreciate hearing new perspectives on important topics. Here it is:

......

  First of all I acknowledge that there is racism in the book of Mormon and that it has been used to justify wrong behavior and to perpetuate racism in modern times. That's wrong. I hope we know that now. I personally think that scripture generally can and unfortunately, often is used more as an authoritative instrument of abuse than as a means to enlightenment.

  When Jesus used scripture, he "opened to us the scriptures" (Luke 24:32). He used them to open a discussion, not to close it with an exclamation point or to put an end to a matter. If something truly is holy writ, I don't think it should be used to beat people up, to compel or coerce or get them in line, and certainly not to justify doing things that common sense will tell you is wrong.

  I think the Nephites suffered from a form of racism. Even though Nephi had to remove his people from his brothers, these Nephites were not necessarily a good example either. When they were getting preached to by someone who was a witness of God, they are told, "if ye were holy I would speak unto you of holiness; but as ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, it must needs be expedient that I teach you the consequences of sin" (2 Nephi 9:48). These people were "not holy" even after they were separated from the Lamanites.

  The Nephites may have still had a witness of God among them, but they were unholy and often did not follow what their holy men taught. The Lamanites did not have holy men among them. They were "cut off" from their connection to God (which is more dangerous, recognizing when there is no authentic connection with God, or believing there is one, when there isn't, or having pretenders act as though they are holy when they are not?).

   As a separate people the Lamanites began to have a "skin of blackness" come upon them. The only method that is mentioned to transmit this "skin of blackness" was by "mixing with their seed" (2 Nephi 5:23). To assume that this skin change just magically appeared is reading something into the text that isn't stated. The only method that is stated is that this could be transmitted by mixing seed. Later the book of Mormon says that at the same time these people came into this new land, there were other people all ready settled in the land and names the Jaredites and Mulekites specifically. Whether or not there were others is left open but without specifics. It may be implied because even though nothing is said specifically about these groups until much later, shortly after settling into this new land, the Nephites are tempted to take on "many wives" (Jacob 1:15).

    The possibility of having "many wives" seems to indicate that they settled near some aboriginal people. Since mixing seed is the only method mentioned about how this skin color could be transmitted, it seems likely that there were at least some aboriginal people, who all ready had this "skin of blackness" and that the Lamanites were "mixing seed" with these aboriginal people such that their seed inherited this darker skin. Much later, a group of Lamanites, the people of Ammon, leave their homeland and move back with the Nephites (Alma 27, 90-77 BC). It takes several generations to pass by, but apparently the darker skin became no longer distinguishable from the Nephites (3 Nephi 2:15, 5-16 AD). To me, this explains how this skin color came about. It's basically just genetics.

   When skin color is first mentioned, the Nephites, as an unholy people, were apparently quite turned off by the darker skin. To them it was not "enticing" (2 Nephi 5:21). They suffered from some form of racism even though they were supposed to be the righteous group. Since colors can be used as symbols, where someone using darkness to cover themselves, can imply hiding evil, and someone using light for a covering can imply openness and truth, the Nephites apparently thought that their skin color was evidence that they actually were living the truth and the Lamanites were evil. That's an error. It's racism. Jacob addressed the fallacy of their racism when he said, "the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you" (Jacob 3:5).

    Jacob goes on to warn them that if they think skin color is a reflection of personal purity then that wrong-headed idea will eventually be corrected because, "unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God" (Jacob 3:8). Then he tries to shake them from their racism altogether, by giving a direct command, "Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins" (Jacob 3:9). What more could he say to get them to stop judging "because of the darkness of their skins"? To me, this makes it clear that the Nephites really did suffer from some racism. It is also clear that the "word of God" gives a commandment, to not judge or "revile", because of skin color. That didn't mean the Nephites didn't do it. The fact that it had to be addressed this way implies that they did. But they are clearly taught and warned against racism by one among them who who did have an authentic connection with God.

   If the book of Mormon really is for our day, then it ought to address real problems that we face in our day. Racism is a real problem we face in our day. It is addressed in the book of Mormon. I think when viewed from those who actually are holy, and not by pretenders or simply a people that is supposed to be religious, it is not condoned, but is given as a command from God to not judge because of skin color. The same Nephi, who first tells us of the darker skin coming upon the Lamanites is also the same person who says of God, "he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God" (2 Nephi 26:33). That is how God feels about it, even if the Nephites acted differently. I think it is terrible that rather than learn from the errors of the religious Nephites, and accept the chastening that their prophets gave them, the church instead has accepted the Nephites as examples and historically has chosen to follow their errors, including on this issue of race.  (written by Jared)

Monday, December 7, 2015

345: LIGHTS IN THE HEAVENS

Woke up early this morning and took a few photos in the mountains. Despite the cloudy forecast, the sun, moon and Venus were all visible on this first day that many around the world observe the Festival of Lights.
 
This morning there was a lunar occultation which happens when the moon passed in front of Venus. Venus has passed behind the moon several times this year, but Monday was the first time that it was visible in the United States. Once the moon moved in front of Venus, it took a little over an hour for the planet to emerge from the other side.

 
The moon and the morning star (Venus) just before the moon passed in front of the planet on December 7, 2015
 
Photo taken at almost 10,000 feet elevation of the sunrise this morning (December 7, 2015)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

344: "A GREAT MIRACLE HAPPENED HERE"

The following post is dedicated to our friends who we are praying and fasting for this day.


Above is a photo of the candles we light in our home. 
 
Years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a false religion began to be practiced in many parts of the Holy Land. In 175 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes became king of Syria and made a determined effort to change the Jewish religion. At first he met with considerable success, owing partly to a popular Greek movement among the Jews themselves.

However, on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev in 165 B.C., a small group of patriots known as the Maccabees stood up for their true religion and defeated Antiochus IV and those who followed his ways. This brave group of "preservationists" restored and rededicating their Temple which had been defiled due to improper worship of false gods and inappropriate rituals being performed within the Temple walls.
 
  •  “The sons of Israel (Maccabees) went up to the Temple and rebuilt its gates and purified the Temple from the defilement. And they sought after pure olive oil to light the lamps therewith, but could not find any, except one bowl that was sealed  from the days of Samuel the prophet and they knew that it was pure. There was in it [enough oil] to light [the lamps therewith] for one day, but the God of heaven whose name dwells there put therein his blessing and they were able to light from it eight days. Therefore, the sons of Israel made this covenant and took upon themselves a solemn vow, they and the sons of Israel, all of them, to publish amongst the sons of Israel, [to the end] that they might observe these eight days of joy and honor, as the days of the feasts written in [the book of] the Law; [even] to light in them so as to make known to those who come after them that their God wrought for them salvation from heaven.   (Excerpt from the Hebrew text with an English translation in the Scroll of Antiochus.)
An observance to remember this miracle that the one-day supply of oil burned for eight days, giving time for the preparation of new oil has been observed now for thousands of years since 175 BC. In the scriptures it is called the "Festival of the Dedication". We read in John 10:22

"And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 
And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch." 

In the following verses, Christ speaking in the Temple to the Jewish priests and religious leaders on this memorable day, he said "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."  However, the religious leaders did not like the words Christ spoke and tried to stone him.

This "feast of dedication" referred to in the New Testament is has now known as the "Festival of Lights", but more commonly referred to as Hannukah, which comes from the Hebrew word for “dedication,” or “consecration.” It has been observed from thousands of years since the day of the rededicating of the Holy Temple.

The lighting of  candles remains a central element of this celebration, with one candle being lit each night. Eight of the candles represent each night the temple oil burned; the ninth is a servant candle, known as Shamash, which is used to light the others. Three blessings are said during this time with a prayer honoring God as the one who "performed miracles for our ancestors in days of old."
 
A children games are also often played during this 8 day celebration, with the best known being the spinning of a dreidel, a pointed, four-sided top. The top has four letters representing the phrase "Nes gadol hayah sham," or "A Great Miracle Happened Here."

Tonight at sundown begins this eight day observance.

Next year in 2016, the feast of dedication or Hannukah will begin the evening of Saturday, Dec. 24 until the evening of Sunday, Jan. 1.

 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

343: ADVERTISING OUR MULTICULTURAL GLOBAL CHURCH:

The latest Christmas video that the LDS Church just released spotlights children from around the world. It is called A Savior is Born. It is beautifully produced and showcases an African girl and boy as well as other children from the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Europe.

 
 
The scriptures recited by the children about the birth of the Savior is wonderful and the video is moving. This video will help the Church get their message across that they are a Multicultural Global Church  (despite the centralized leadership only comprised of white successful businessmen from Utah.) Hopefully by hiring an advertising agency to produce a Christmas video/Church ad featuring beautiful children from all over the world and with a website link and Church logo at the very end will bring the true Spirit of Christmas to those who see it.

That being said....


To be honest, ( and I know I am being very critical that I most likely will need to repent of) the video reminded me of the Benetton ads that begin in the 1980's with their "United Colors"  ad campaign. Benetton was one of the first to use a multiracial advertisements designed to show that their company was accepted in all countries of the world. The ads were very successful especially since they featured these well dressed children with perfect smiles from every continent.

But is this really what the children look like around the world? All of the children in the Church video look they have been hand selected from the same modeling agency that Benetton used for their advertisements and/or look like they shop at City Creek Mall.  
 

 

 The reality is that too many children around the world live in poverty and don't dress or look as healthy as the models who are paid to be in a video or in an advertisement. Please watch the below video from the Liahona's Children Foundation.  
  
 
 
While both videos are touching, the last video is humbling to watch and reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of giving and striving to become one of His disciples as we celebrate His birth and His mission at this time of year. 

"And remember in all things the poor and the needy,
the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things,
the same is not my disciple."
 
.........................
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 23, 2015

342: MONOGAMY vs POLYGAMY


In the new LDS Church History Museum is a display explaining the origin of polygamy within the Church.  The display is entitled: A Test of Faith: The Saints and Plural Marriage.

 
As part of the display is the following statement:

Monogamy is God's standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise. In 1831, when Joseph Smith was making inspired revisions in the King James Version of the Bible, he asked God why He had permitted plural marriage in biblical times. God revealed that He had directed it for His own specific purposes, and then He commanded Joseph to live the principle and introduce it to the Saints. 
 
Joseph was understandably cautious about when and to whom he taught this principle. He waited until 1843 to dictate a written version of the revelation ( D&C 132). But he began privately sharing it with some of his closest associates before then, emphasizing the eternal bonds created with wives and children. After moving to the Rocky Mountains, the Saints openly practiced plural marriage for almost 50 years, until in God's appointed time, He directed that the practice should cease.
...

On display behind covered glass is a manuscript in the handwriting of Joseph C. Kingsbury which the Church reports is the revelation to Joseph Smith on July 12, 1843. (now part of Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.). However, this was not released publicly until 1852, eight years after Joseph’s death and after Brigham Young led thousands of Mormons in a westward exodus. (For more information on the authenticity  of this revelation, please read the below essay on pages 17-24)





Now it is my understanding that the purpose of a museum is to display factual historical information and artifacts. Museum directors are devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects to preserve history. That being said, I would expect that the LDS Church History Museum would not display anything that was not authentic.  As part of the Polygamy Display at the Museum are photographs of Eliza Maria Partridge and Lucy Walker Kimball which the Church reports as both being wives of Joseph Smith. I was troubled to see that modern photographs of beautiful women were used instead of the real photographs of these women.

Here is the museum's display of Eliza Maria Partridge. However, a photograph of a female model is used instead.
 
 
Here is the LINK to an authentic photograph of Eliza Maria Partridge
 


....................................................

 Here is a display portraying Lucy Walker Kimball with another "stand-in model/actress".

 
Here is a LINK to an authentic photo of Lucy Walker Kimball.
 

Now I can understand if no photographs existed of these women, but when there are well preserved photographs.. why not use them? Why hire beautiful women to pose as Joseph Smith's wives and put them in the display instead of the real photographs? Are we trying to paint a better picture?

.....
While the above information is interesting to consider, the purpose of this blog post is because a few weeks ago I read an essay written by an author who has done extensive research on the topic of polygamy. Before doing the research, he fully believed in the historical evidence that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. While it is true there is a great deal of evidence tying Joseph Smith to the practice, this paper presents information that possibly Joseph Smith never had marital relations with anyone else but his one wife Emma. I would encourage everyone to read this essay with an open mind.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

341: MASS EXODUS FROM THE LDS CHURCH

Approximately two thousand people including lifelong members of the LDS Church gathered this afternoon across from the Church Office Building to submit letters of resignation to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upset about the new Church policy, they officially are requesting that their names be removed from the records of the Church.  A new strict policy was added to the Handbook of Instructions which prohibits children under the age of 18 to receive saving ordinances if their parents live in a same sex marriage/cohabitation. It has caused a huge firestorm leaving many members upset, frustrated and concerned.

I have never seen more people  with letters in their hands in one place other than the post office during the holidays. :) Here are a few photos I took this afternoon.

 
 
Hundreds of people line up to cross North Temple to  submit letters of resignation to the LDS Church Office Building
 
......................................................................................
 
However, not all letters of concern were submitted to the Church wanting to resign their membership. Many have written their opinions on facebook and other social media sites. Personally I wasn't going to post anything about this since I didn't want to add to the commotion until I read the below email that my friend wrote. My friend was kind enough to grant permission for me to post this personal email. I think it is important to read amidst all of the other voices and opinions..
 
Just to put the below email into proper context, my friend is a faithful life long member of the Church. This was written in a response to a family email chain in which the siblings and parents were in favor of the new policy. My friend shared a "differing point of view" which was written a few days ago. (important to note since one of the examples in the body of the email  may be "out dated" after the 1st Presidency released a clarifying letter that will be read tomorrow in Sacraments meetings.) 
 
While the letter is long, many important observations are made in regards to this new Church policy.
 
 
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hello Everyone,

I really don't have time to be writing this and have debated whether I should or not. It is a very RARE occasion that I would disagree with my parents or siblings on a matter. This topic has raised a lot of ire and confusion and has put stalwart members in a position of feeling the need to defend the policy. I understand this: It is almost unfathomable for an active LDS to even consider the idea that the brethren could actually make an error in policy or anything else. I comprehend the dilemma being experienced by so many on this issue, and wanted to share my thoughts. THIS WILL NOT BE A SHORT EMAIL; so I suppose only those really wanting to know what I think will bother to read its' entirety; but I hope that you will. My position is NOT from those that you may be typically hearing from in the media. As you all know, I am not a homosexual sympathizer, nor a progressive Mormon in any way, shape or form.

Also, I will admit that I have been frustrated with the Church's ever softening positions regarding the surrounding LGBT issues, only because I have cared about the issue so much and see it for the serious impact it is having. I have watched over the last decade how the church has waffled and caved in on very critical matters in an attempt not to rock the boat regarding this very "politically correct" issue. I have written a book, which I will be sending to everyone probably in the spring; which includes a 50 page section just documenting how the Church has changed their stance very gradually over the last decade regarding how they deal with the sin of homosexuality. I have been absolutely dumbfounded and baffled by the position the Church has repeatedly taken. They have danced around this particular sin in ways that they do not on other sins. They have literally CHANGED before my eyes. They have caved to pressure repeatedly. Just to mention a few, without the interesting and pertinent details:

* The unscriptural, unconstitutional and hypocritical Salt Lake City Ordinance of 2010 that they formally backed

* The unscriptural (meaning they set aside direct commands in the D&C in order to support it), unconstitutional, and hypocritcal (meaning they asked the typical citizen to live something they exempted themselves from complying with) Utah State LGBT anti-discrimination law that would never have passed without the Church's pressure and support (something unprecedented for them to support before 2010) that resulted in every liberal news outlet in the nation singing our praises and a personal thank you visit from Obama! (Again, this law singling out a “certain sin” for special treatment different from other sins)

* The lack of backbone in standing with principle on the Boy Scout issue (even though they polled and found 63% of active members felt it was time to break ties with the Scouts.) How can the Church observe that an organization which was founded on commitment to God and teaching boys to be morally straight clearly throw it's foundations under the bus; yet repeatedly to lack the spiritual leadership and fortitude to separate themselves from it; and then continue to ask members in a temple recommend question if they “affiliate” with any group or individual that teaches things contrary to what the Church teaches? They need to have the courage to abide their own worthiness questions by separating ties from a now corrupted organization that has strayed from its’ moral bearings.

* Teaching a softened attitude surrounding homosexuality by reducing the “sin” aspect to ONLY existing if you literally “act” on it. This neglects the need to strongly address the connection of our hearts to our thoughts and the cultivation of sin that takes place within these unseen and perhaps never even played private corridors of our soul. Immoral desires that our dwelt upon are lust; of which “sin” (even if never acted upon) the Lord says is the same as committing the sin in your heart. Yes, this may be a “higher law” and a much more challenging standard of life to live; but we should be teaching what the Lord teaches. We are not called to make the truth tolerable and soothe the soul, but to make the truth clear. We should not be classifying same-sex attraction as some "benign guilt-free birth originating state of being" that someone has to live with the rest of one’s life. There has been a subtle but profound change in direction when the Church started coddling those struggling with homosexual thoughts by emphasizing a distinction between “attraction” and “acting.” The “Sermon on the Mount” places high standards on His followers; those standards center in what is taking place in the mind and heart of His followers. This is where our emphasis should be placed. I could go on for a long time on this one!

* After at least one former prophet declared over the pulpit that it was blasphemy to claim that you are born that way (Kimball, 1980 General Conference); we have now bought in to this concept and helped further the homosexual agenda; which requires that society accept people as being born this way, with no ability to change and that it is horrendously offensive to even suggest that they can change. As of 2007, the Church began changing their language in addressing the topic to make it clear that they no longer officially take the position that people are “not” born that way. They don't want to offend the LGBT community by sounding insensitive. Elder Holland's talk in October confirmed this fact when he added the unnecessary, but obvious, caveat into his story about a repentant young adult man by saying, “this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would.” (Is this not a denial of the atonement of Christ, that through Him we can become new creatures, too?) It’s a complete catering to the LGBT agenda! The Church even edited Elder Packer's talk a couple of years ago when the LGBT community made an uproar because he (one who maintained the traditional church stance) inferred that gays are not “born that way.” 

* Elder Oaks and Ballard gave recent public addresses that also went counter to principles that have been valued traditionally in the Church and have advocated an attitude of compromise rather than principle in order to “get along” at all costs.

* The announcement last spring by Elder Christofferson that any member who opposes the Church's position of gay marriage and supports same-sex marriage is free to vocalize their support for such marriage in public ways, including using social media, without any fear of Church discipline. This was probably the first time I've seen the Church permit open rebellion and opposition to a gospel teaching. (Once again, allowing homosexuality to be treated as a special category of sin with it's own rules applying to it). It used to be that when you spoke out in opposition to the teaching of the church in a public manner, you would be brought in for correction by an ecclesiastical leader and if you persisted in advocating in opposition to a gospel truth then this was considered apostasy and excommunication was highly probable. But this category of sin is now being given a special "out." The Steve Young's of the world are being given a free pass to promote apostasy, while remaining secure in their standing and ability to have a temple recommend. (More on this later).


I could go on and on in great detail about the subtle, but observable changes the Church has undergone regarding homosexual issues. I fear they have betrayed the scriptures, and even created new doctrine telling gays that as long as they remain celibate they will not be denied any blessing and all things will be compensated in the hereafter, including the possible blessing of exaltation [read Christofferson’s April 2015 talk carefully to see this teaching clearly inferred], instead of teaching what the scriptures say, which is that a man MUST enter into marriage with a woman if he wants exaltation. They have catered to the whining and moaning of people who won't rise up and shake off the chains of the awful grasp of Satan and pay no heed to temptation that is common to all in mortality.

This is just my introduction to make sure everyone who reads this knows without any question that I am not to be lumped in with all these homosexual agenda sympathizers in what I am about to say.


NOW FOR THE MEAT OF MY POINT:

For the first time in a decade, the church actually came out with a policy that an first glance looks like a person such as I would be jumping up and down about. As soon as I heard it, I was like, "Yay, wait! What? I have to think about this for a minute."

My "yay" was about the excommunication of those that enter same-sex marriage or live in homosexual relationships.

To be clear, the scriptures teach that unrepentant sinners should be excommunicated. If someone lives in such a situation of immorality and blatant disregard for the laws of God and does not repent; they should be excommunicated. (Another reason why I think the soft tone the church has been taking over the last decade has hurt those tempted by this sin, rather than helped them. Sometimes in order to help a person get off the road they’re traveling, it takes realizing the gravity of the situation and the precarious state of one’s soul, rather than having others coddle you with empathy because it's a hard temptation to face).

I wanted to shout “hallelujah” that they were clear on this. But this shouldn't be news worthy of any attention. This should be obvious. It should have been standard that anyone living a homosexual lifestyle, or marriage, was subject to automatic excommunication if they did not repent and turn from the sin. I would have expected this to already be written in the handbook.

As mentioned, after this initial excitement, I felt a little twinge of question regarding some of the other points. I did NOT listen to or read the news to hear others' opinions. I merely pondered and studied it out on my own to reach the conclusions below. 

THE NUTS AND BOLTS:

The beginning portion of the new policy that is directed toward children states:

“Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship

A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting...”

As written in the handbook, this policy is directed toward any children that have “a” parent that is a practicing homosexual. It requires that minor children that have “a” parent that practices homosexual marriage or cohabitation, not be allowed baptism until 18 years old, plus they may no longer reside with said parent at the time of baptism. Additionally, they are required to get First Presidency approval and must disavow homosexual marriage as a condition to receive the ordinance of baptism.

Here are the concerns that jumped out at me in no particular order of importance:

1.) All minors are already required to get parental permission to get baptized. This is as it should be. The difference I see is that polygamy and same-sex marriage parents are the only two categories of sin identified and treated differently as to standard policy.

As a missionary, it didn't matter if a person's parents were pedophiles in prison, a strung out druggie, a convicted murderer, a prostitute or whatever other heinous sin you can think of. AS LONG AS PARENTAL PERMISSION WAS GRANTED, THE BAPTISM COULD MOVE FORWARD. Why should this situation be any different? Truly? Don't respond because you don't like homosexuality (cause I don't either...nor any sin for that matter). Think about it. If no regard is given to the sins of parents in all other cases of baptism of minors, why should this be different?


Elder Christofferson came out and said it was to keep peace and refrain from conflict in a family. This seems to be a disingenuous argument because it doesn't hold water under scrutiny. The reason I say this is because it blatantly ignores the fact that there is already a “qualifier” set in place by the church regarding the baptisms of minors: THE PARENTS OF THE MINOR MUST GIVE PERMISSION IN ORDER FOR A MINOR TO BE BAPTIZED.

An ardent practicing homosexual will not normally give permission for their child to be baptized in the first place. BUT, in the cases where it does occur; how can the church say they are protecting the child from conflict IF the parent has already given, and is required to give, explicit permission for the baptism; full well knowing that the Church teaches against their particular lifestyle? Once the parent consents, the conflict that would arise in a home is no different than that which is experienced by any other minor who gets baptized and has parents that don't live the commandments taught by the Church.

Our own father was baptized at 8 and yet, prior to his baptism, he had a parent who had left the church and was not living the commandments. He was gambling, drinking, not supporting his family financially, living questionable morality, and so forth. In essence, dad's father had apostatized. Should dad have been denied baptism because his father made choices that disqualified him and resulted in his excommunication? Getting parental permission wasn't a relevant issue in his day, but dad did experience the challenges of living the gospel when you have a parent that is “unworthy” by gospel standards. Just like all other kids that have been baptized with "unworthy" parents, he had to move forward with his conviction of trying to live the gospel, knowing that his parent was failing to live up to the standards required of the Lord. He grew from the experience. He may have had difficult moments in those young years, but it was ultimately the strength and teachings found in the gospel that allowed him to give complete forgiveness to his father when forgiveness was sought. This struggle is not unique to someone with a homosexual parent, even though the Church is trying to present it as such and that it requires more stringent “protection” for the child’s emotions.

The "conflict" that the church is claiming they are trying to prevent in these families is not a valid argument. If that were their true position; then this policy would be and should be applied across the board, to ALL minor baptisms. They should just come out and say; “no minors can be baptized if their parents are blatant sinners, even if the parents consent; And when the child turns 18, they've got to move out of the home and confess that they know that their parents are sinners and they will disavow the specific sins of which those parents are guilty.” It's ludicrous when you think about it in context of real life.

2.) By requiring people to disavow a "particular sin" before being allowed to be baptized and by disallowing minor baptism even if permission of parents was granted, and then requiring the condition of not living with the offending parent and needing First Presidency approval, they have just added conditions to baptism, contrary to scripture. (It doesn't matter how logical or prudent they or you may think it is. Scripture is given to be followed! Particularly when the one speaking in the scripture is Christ Himself. Are we greater than He? Did He not foresee our day and anticipate EVERY possible dilemma we face? He did! And He already made His declaration! Do NOT add to or take from what He gave as conditions for baptism! He called those conditions “HIS DOCTRINE” and the “Doctrine of my Father.” He didn't say to obey His instructions, “unless someone holding the keys decides I don't know what I'm talking about.”

Please take a moment to read Christ’s words in the following verses:

  • 3 Nephi 11:31-40
  • 2 Nephi 31
  • 2 Nephi 32

In addition to these scriptures clearly warning against adding to or taking from His doctrine of baptism, it is my understanding that in getting baptized, an individual is already stating by their action that they have repented of their sins and do not desire to live a life of sin; thus, if properly taught His doctrine of baptism, it would be inherent in the desire to receive the covenant that a person would be automatically stating that they reject sin of all kind. We do not have to specify particular types of sins to be baptized...it's ALL sin we are actually disavowing in reality.

3.) They have just created a logistical nightmare that could be avoided if they just followed the Doctrine of Christ in the scriptures.


Imagine the varied circumstances that this new policy effects.

Suppose, for example, as is the case with MANY people in this Church, that your daughter married a guy and they had 3-4 children together and the husband suddenly breaks it to her that he has been gay all his life and he can't resist anymore and he's running away with his lover. Your daughter is now in a situation she never imagined. In addition to the trauma of a broken marriage, most, if not all her children are unbaptized at this time because of their young age. You, as the grandparents, and your daughter, desire to lessen the impact of the father's sins upon the children as much as possible. You all want her to be able to raise your grandchildren in the gospel and allow them every opportunity to come to the Lord, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, receive the priesthood, etc. Remarkably, even though their father rejected the gospel and lives an immoral life, he actually has a kind heart and sees the good the Church does for people and HE CONSENTS TO ALLOW THE CHILDREN TO BE RAISED AS ACTIVE MEMBERS AND BE BAPTIZED! Your daughter shares joint custody with the dad, because he still loves his kids, hasn’t abandoned those responsibilities, wants to be a dad to them and has legal rights that can't be avoided even if you disapprove of his lifestyle. You struggle inside because you don't want your grandkids to accept his lifestyle as approved by the Lord, and you know that the gospel is their only hope in this world and out of it. 

According to this new policy; YOUR DAUGHTER'S CHILDREN CANNOT BE BAPTIZED UNTIL THEY ARE 18. [Note: Two days after writing this email letter, the Church further altered the implementation of their policy to now only effect those where “primary” custody of the children is by the homosexual parent. Though joint custody was not directly addressed. But prior to amending their policy, it was clearly written in the handbook and implied that the policy would affect all children with “a” parent living in a homosexual relationship. Please read this section understanding the interpretation provided at the time it was written].

Now, the Church is saying that this scenario is just fine, because, after all, the kids can still attend church and participate in activities. And they can still EVENTUALLY be baptized.

Really! Is that how you would really feel if it happened to you?

Do you think a child feels comfortable when all the other kids in primary get baptized and they can't? Do you think a boy feels wonderful and wanted and cared about if all the other boys become deacons and pass the sacrament and he can't. He can't prepare it. He can't bless it. Do you think the girl feels comfortable when all the YW get to go do baptisms for the dead and she can't go? You have forgotten what it feels like to be an adolescent if you think this won’t negatively affect them.

And let's not forget the biggest issue for those that believe that the Gift of the Holy Ghost comes by the laying on of hands after baptism; DO YOU THINK IT RIGHT THAT THROUGH SOME OF THE MOST DIFFICULT YEARS OF A PERSON'S LIFE (teens), THEY CANNOT HAVE THE PROMISED GIFT?

And what is the reason for all this ostracism and unnecessary exclusion? Because one of their parents failed to live up to their covenants with the particular sin of homosexuality. And even though their sinning father is perfectly willing and happy to support their children in baptism, missions, etc., and THERE WOULD NOT BE CONFLICT because of their membership; the child is denied! (Don't you think some kids are already embarrassed enough over their parents' decisions. Do you really think it right to shame someone during these precarious years with such unscriptural spiritual isolation and denial?)

This is a serious matter. Please don't gloss over this concept. WE SHOULD ALL BE EXPERIENCED ENOUGH IN LIFE BY NOW TO SEE THAT THE CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING TO SOMEONE IN OUR EXTENDED FAMILY, IN OUR LIFETIME, IS A VERY STRONG POSSIBILITY!

I for one, would be very sick, if my grandchildren or children could not proceed forth in their faith due to a parent's choices. It's all good and well to say they will get baptized eventually! But the Lord says we are NOT to DENY ANY THAT DESIRE TO COME TO HIM!

(And if someone tells me there are legal ramifications and protections the church is trying to guard against; I say, balderdash! Trust in the Lord and stop relying upon the arm of flesh and protecting our tax-free status!)


4.) The Church also seems to have neglected the obvious contradictions that they have created in this string of inconsistencies. This policy means that they MUST change their temple recommend questions.

Recommend question #6 states:

Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?

The question is so ridiculous in its' current format, no one, even the Church itself, lives this standard!

But in fairness, most leaders would say that this question is really just intended to see if you are affiliating with "apostate" individuals or groups.

Well, now that they have labeled homosexuals in marriage or cohabitation as apostates (instead of just excommunicating for the sin), that means the question directly applies to associating with homosexuals. 

Now every LDS person who has family or friends who have succumbed to this sin, and the LDS member seeking a recommend is still associating with the one guilty of the sin (a very likely prospect if the sinner is a family member), the recommend-seeking member will now have to answer affirmatively to this question and will not qualify for a recommend if we want to be technical. They are going to have to change the question. This is a big conflict, which it seems they didn't think through when they applied the term of "apostasy" in connection to homosexuals.

This question is also particularly troubling in light of my next point.

5.) I am particularly troubled with the ramifications of their statement in the spring of 2015 that said that an active LDS member can speak openly against the gospel/scriptural standard of marriage, the church’s teachings and what the leadership has declared, and actually make public their support for same-sex marriage through their social media and other means, without any fear of church discipline or loss of temple recommend.

How is this not in direct conflict with the recommend question above? We are asked if we "sympathize" with the precepts of people whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those of the Church; which clearly now includes same-sex marriage, since it qualifies as apostasy; and yet they give exception to those who support “this form” of apostasy! (Oddly, if members speak openly against a church teaching or the brethren on ANY other issue, they would still be considered apostate; but as part of the softening up the Church started doing, they made an exception on this matter so as to be politically correct and pacify the progressive leaning members of the Church; again, they keep treating this sin differently than other sins).

So let's analyze this a little further:
They are saying that a person that is ALREADY a baptized member that has already made covenants to follow Christ and should be striving to obey His word and commandments can actively promote their support for same-sex marriage in a public manner without any threat to their membership or standing.... 

BUT, if you haven't been baptized yet and happen to be a child who was born to or adopted by homosexual parents (one or both parents) then you cannot be baptized without first "disavowing" the practice of same-sex marriage.

Do we see a double standard here? A current member, like Steve Young, can speak in favor of same-sex marriage all day long without consequence because he's already baptized and it apparently doesn't matter to the church that he's covenanted to obey the Lord and is acting contrary to recommend question #6. Members are apparently free to AVOW this “apostate” sin all day long! But someone not yet baptized, that happened to be denied baptism until they turn 18 because of a policy, can't get the desired baptism unless they renounce a practice that other baptized members are now allowed to advocate! (Don't misunderstand; I think the sin of homosexuality should be rejected by any member on the basis that it is sin; period).

HELLO! Do they not see the stunning contradiction here? The inconsistency is mind blowing to me! How can you require something of these children to get baptized at 18; that you do not require of all your members simultaneously? THE SCRIPTURES CALL THIS HYPOCRISY! 

Where is the outrage on this from every active member of this Church? We are so conditioned to cow tow to everything our leaders say that we refuse to see the inconsistencies that need correcting because we have convinced ourselves they cannot err.

CONCLUSION:

Now, I'm sure I have infuriated some of you with these points. Once again, I want my position to be clear of not sympathizing with homosexual sin in any way.

One of my biggest hesitations in stating my views is that most of the people that are upset about this are progressive LDS members that I would probably disagree with on 98% of things. It's the John Dehlin, Ordain Women, liberal leaning, homosexual agenda supporting members that are in an outrage (many who have been thrilled with how the church has been softening over the years).

Many of them are upset for reasons that I do not resonate with. It's the "let’s just all get along no matter what" crowd and "you're being homophobic" crowd that wants their sins to be accepted over time, and not be viewed by society in any degree of negative light, that are so offended and making themselves so vocal, that it lessens the willingness of voices like mine to be heard without bias by faithful members.

The progressive crowd thought the church was changing in the direction they’ve advocated, because they were witnessing it change over the last 10 years as I've stated; and they are mad that this policy seems to revert back to the Church’s old ways.

Now, if I vocalize why I am not in agreement with this policy; I am automatically lumped in with these progressives who are not viewing this with the same lens that I am. I automatically seem like I'm soft on homosexual sin, too. I get lumped in with a bunch of “faithless, Joseph Smith smearing, Book of Mormon doubting, seeking to be popular” people; and nothing could be further from the truth as to how I am.

For all these years I have made the argument that YOU DO NOT CLASSIFY AND TREAT HOMOSEXUAL SIN AS A SPECIAL CATEGORY OF SIN! You don't get politically correct and dance around it so as not to offend. You speak boldly of what it is and why it is damning and you don't treat it differently than other serious immoral sins because it is politically charged. (IMO, this is what the Church has been doing and it has contributed to the current frustration). You stand strong on it and speak the truth clearly and with boldness. You use the power of the word of God to influence people's behavior.

In the same tone; you don't need to treat this sin as a different category in it's DISCIPLINE either. It merits excommunication for certain. But it does not need to be treated as a separate category of sin where we treat the children differently than we do of an adulterer, or any other person that has committed serious sin of any nature.

Consistency is the key. Homosexual sin is not a unique and special category of sin that deserves our tolerance MORE than other sins, NOR our empathy MORE than other sins, nor is it a sin that deserves the children to be treated differently because the parents engage in the sin. Treat all sin as sin and deal with it and those involved according to scripture (including continuing to love them); and treat all children the same, denying no one, as explained in scripture.

I send these words for your consideration lovingly, but with passion for truth as I understand it.

(signed by my friend)

Friday, October 23, 2015

340: CHANGING THE ORDINANCE, REMOVING THE SYMBOLS and MODIFYING THE WORDS


The trick to successfully pulling off an apostasy is to distract people into thinking there hasn't been one and that all is well in Zion. When apostasy is noticed, acknowledged and exposed, then it is possible to repent and return. Until then, we remain blind and most likely will continue to discard and reject the things of the Lord.

 Elder Jeffery R Holland declared in February of this year that the Church is immune to error and will not fall into apostasy.

“Ours is that fail-safe, inexorable, indestructible dispensation of the fulness of the gospel… Unlike every other era before us, this dispensation will not experience an institutional apostasy; it will not see a loss of priesthood keys; it will not suffer a cessation of revelation from the voice of Almighty God. Individuals will apostatize, they may turn a deaf ear to heaven, but never again will this dispensation collectively do so. What a secure thought that is! What a day in which to live! What a way to cut through fear or faintheartedness”


However, Christ’s own words in the Book of Mormon predicted that at some point the latter-day gentiles would reject the fullness. (3 Nephi 16:10) We also read that we also fall into apostasy when we change or alter the ordinances that the Lord has given us.

The adversary succeeds when he manages to get us to not reject ordinances, but to change them. As soon as they are changed, they are broken. (D&C 1: 15.) "For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant." That is an important step towards apostasy, because then religious people can continue to claim they follow a true religion, while practicing one that has been broken. These practitioners become like the ancient Jews, who mocked Lehi because they knew they were still righteous. They knew Lehi was foolish, even fraudulent. They thought it was humorous when Lehi preached the idea. Because they were so very religious, so devout, so unassailably active in following God, the idea was absolutely laughable that they were apostate. They still had the truth, the ordinances, the temple, and the priesthood. (excerpts from a blog post entitled The Trick to Apostasy)

Here is just one example of an ordinance that we have changed: The sacrament.  Not only have we changed the words, the symbols, but also in the manner in which the sacrament is administered. In my opinion, it has lost its sacred qualities. That is a perfect example of changing an ordinance. While it maintains the appearance, it is hollow without the sacred symbols. (It should be noted that these changes are minor compared the changes made to the Temple Ordinances after I took out my endowments prior to 1990's)
 
LDS Sacrament Emblems:


The Emblems of the Sacrament in Scriptures:


 

 Here is a quick example of what happens when you remove something as simple as the symbolic color red. Below is an illustration of a familiar symbol. However, it is missing just one thing: the color red. Is a stop sign still a stop sign without the color red? Would you know to stop if you saw the below white stop sign on the street corner? Does it have the same effect? So, how about using clear, chlorinated water as the symbol for blood for the sacrament?  Does that have the same effect?
 
 

Here are a few important things that we have changed and altered from the Sacrament ordinance:
 
CONGREGATIONAL KNEELING:

Everyone should knee out of respect to the Lord and the sacred nature of the ordinance. We read that the elder or priest knelt down along with the congregation to bless the sacrament. 
  • "And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ." Moroni 4:2

  • "And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer." D&C 20:76
SACRAMENT EMBLEMS:
Wine should be used (alcoholic or not). Scriptures mandate that. The purpose of the wine is to not only symbolized the blood with the color red, but also to reflect the bitterness of the shedding of the blood of the Savior. It is designed to be unpleasant and not necessarily “taste good”.
  • "It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus." D&C 20:75-

  • "And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make."D&C 89: 5-6
 
SACRAMENT PRAYERS:
 
Exact wording of the Sacrament Prayer either from the chapters 4 and 5 in Moroni or section 20 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Unfortunately we have changed the word wine and we say water instead. (interesting to note: there is a word difference between the two scriptural versions. In the Book of Mormon, Moroni uses the word “hath” and in the D&C it uses the word “has” in the blessing of the bread. See below).

Moroni 4
  • O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
 
D&C 20: 77
 
  • O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen

TAKING UPON US AN OATH/SACRED COVENANT:
 
The Sacrament is a sacred ordinance. Quite literally, the sacrament is like taking an oath. Under oath we promise to “always remember Him.”
 In the legal system, you would not be allowed to testify in a courtroom under oath unless you raise your arm to the square. It is a signal that you are being square about this, you are being truthful about this, you are being honest about this. You are holding yourself up to the sharp corners of truth and squareness.
 
The Lord not only wants us to recite in the Sacrament Prayers our obligations that we are giving, but also recite the Lords' obligation to us... to have his Spirit to be with us. The language of the ordinance is not merely us reciting what we commit to do, but the Lord’s commitment to us.. That is the thing about covenants. He is saying in this ordinance that if we commit to our obligation, He will commit to deliver to us His Spirit.
 
In fact, raising your arm to the square (either one or both) was used in the Church up until the 1930’s. Like the baptismal prayer, you don’t see an ordinance performed without an arm raised to the square. After World War II it was brought to an end. The priest blessing the sacrament and the congregation are testifying of the same thing. All of them are testifying of this sacred obligation to always remember Him. (Anciently, another reason for extending your hands in the air was to show that your hands were clean.)
 
The picture above was taken about 1894. It shows that the Melchizedek Priesthood holder is raising both hands as he offers the Sacrament Prayer. Many living LDS members recall that when a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood offered the prayer, he raised his right hand only. The practice was discontinued in the LDS Church in the 1930s.
 
 
 
SIDENOTE:
 
I wrote this blog post because I just returned from visiting the new Church History Museum. I was stunned to see in the art exhibit showing the Sacrament representing the Lord's Supper with the 12 apostles. The chair at the head of the table on the right is suppose to represent Christ seat where the large picture of water is. On the table, there are 12 glasses for each of the disciples. The glasses are only filled with water. To compensate for the lack of tthe symbolic red color,  they have used a red tablecloth and seat covering.. Personally when I saw the clear glasses with water it felt empty and lacked the Spirit of what the Lord intended.
  

 
 

This is what the Sacrament table display would look like if you didn't have the red tablecloth and only had the water to symbolize the blood of Christ.
 
So the question to ask yourself: Have we changed this sacred ordinance? If so, lets repent and return back to what the Lord intended.
 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

339: UNBELIEVABLE - "Compromise" and "submit"


Mormon apostle Oaks: Kentucky clerk wrong not to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Elder Oaks: "Compromise should be the goal."

Elder Oaks: "Believers should ... acknowledge the validity of constitutional laws. Even where they have challenged laws or practices on constitutional grounds, once those laws or practices have been sustained by the highest available authority believers should acknowledge their validity and submit to them."

Seriously? Compromise? Submit? No longer should we stand up for what is right? Here is a quote from President Monson that I appreciate:  "Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?"

Here is the full article:
http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/3082891-155/mormon-apostle-oaks-kentucky-clerk-wrong


Sidenote:
I long to feel "free" and fly like this.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

338: MOONRISE AND THEN SUNRISE (with alot of planets and constellations in between)


 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth,
 which comprehend the earth and all the planets.

 
Here are some photos from early this morning. 
 
Photo One: Taken about 6:20 AM this morning as the moon ascended above the horizon.
Starting with the top star in descending order is Regulus (which is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and one of the brightest stars in the night sky). The planet Venus which appeared to be exceptionally bright this morning. Then the planets Mars, Jupiter, and then Mercury which is just above the moon.
 
 
 
Photo Two: The planet Mercury just above the Crescent Moon.
 
 
 Photos 3 and 4: Facing East looking at the rising Sun.
 




"Abraham is the father of all the righteous because he was the first to succeed when born to an apostate father. Abraham represents coming back to the light despite being raised in idolatry. We face this same challenge. We must overcome idolatry by rejecting false ministers and searching for the truth. Just like the fathers at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Jehovah revealed Himself to Abraham. Abraham's religion is intended to return at the end. Abraham was the first to rediscover, " a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers," after generations of darkness."  [PTR pg 124]


For more information about the planet alignments:
http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury

Friday, October 9, 2015

337: DEGREES OF LIGHT

 
Below is the best quote from last week's General Conference.

"If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us. Years ago I read these words of President Spencer W. Kimball, which had a lasting impact on me. He said: “I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil. ... A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is.” see footnote (1)

The reason why this quote is so important is that it is referring to those who have received a testimony of Jesus in the flesh. This is the fulness of the Gospel. This beautiful priceless promise  is contained is scriptural (D&C 93:1)  We don't hear much about this anymore from the pulpit, especially since Joseph Smith (with the exception of a few talks given by Bruce R McConkie.)  

We read in the Doctrine and Covenants 76 about the varying degress of "light" or glory that we are able to receive. The brightest light or "celestial" glory is obtained by those who "received the testimony of Jesus, (in the flesh) and believed on his name." The next glory is given to those who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. (after they had died. President Eyring talks alot about this) .These are they who are honorable men of the earth, but who were blinded by the craftiness of men. The lowest glory is given to those who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.

Yesterday, I took a few photos on an early morning hike. I looked up and noticed an alignment of three heavenly lights in the early morning sky before the sunrise. The lowest star has the least amount of light. The middle light was a little brighter. The highest light was the brightest. The equal spacing between these three lights was beautiful.




Here are a few more photos I took that morning:

 

This is a photograph of the water reflection of the mountains in Lake Katherine. I have inverted the photograph to show that water was so still that the reflection actually looked real.




This photo is also flipped upside down as an example. It hard to tell what is the reflection and what is the real thing.





Footnote 1:
From the General Conference talk given by Larry Lawrence  who is one of the "least" of the General Authorities. He had previously served as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy but is now in the second quorum of the Seventy. I hope Bishops around the world will choose this talk as one of the assigned "rehashed" conference talks for Sacrament speakers to regive during the next 6 months.

BTW:  Elder L. Whitney Clayton was just called to be the President of the Quorum of Seventy, the next highest calling in the heirarchy. Many thought he would be one of the newly called apostles. Once another apostle dies (or even President Monson), he likely will be the next one in line.

Also here is an interesting  Media Blitz for the Church/MoTab Choir that will air tomorrow on ESPN at the Utah Football Game.